Wouldn’t you know? Just as low-income and middle-class residents began breathing the slightest sighs of relief thanks to federal tax cuts, the District’s progressive pickpockets are raising taxes.
Beginning Oct. 1, the start of the fiscal year, sin taxes will take a hike.
The city’s tax on booze — wine, beer and liquor — will increase from 10 percent to 10.5 percent. And while the increase won’t affect running a tab at your neighborhood watering hole while watching a Washington Redskins game or keeping an eye on Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide, the higher tax will hit the wallets of tailgaters and other off-premises sippers.
A good example includes the ones who load their Costco shopping carts with hard-to-find wines and popular brands of booze. To get an understanding of the sin-tax abatement plan, during the days leading up to July Fourth weekend, the Costco that welcomes motorists in Northeast ran out of tequila, and its members wanted to know if there was a waiting list.
The city welcomes the tax dollars, of course, which is why it’s also raising the tax rates on cigarettes. Beginning Oct. 1, the tax on one pack of cigarettes will be $2 higher than on Sept. 30.
Other taxes are on the rise, too: Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing services are going to have to charge 6 percent vs. the current 1 percent, and the tax on rental vehicles will rise from 10 percent to 10.25 percent.
The increased tax rates, city officials argued, are necessary to establish a dedicated stream of revenue for Metro services — the same transit agency that needs D.C.-area businesses to pay six-figures to cover the costs of late-night sports events.
Generally speaking, Metro costs are split three ways, with Maryland and Virginia. The District is expected to pony up $178 million.
Unfortunately, the costs of financing Metro next year are going to be higher than this year’s projections. Indeed, we’ve already experienced Metrobus and Metrorail breakdowns, mishaps and other foibles that weren’t inked into Metro’s own spending plans, which began anew July 1.
So, Metro is already behind the eight ball.
• Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]
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