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Where Is The Tax Burden For The Poor Highest In The D.C. Region?

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Low-income people in Virginia are facing a higher tax burden than anywhere else in the D.C. region, according to a study produced by the D.C. Office of Revenue Analysis.

Wealthy people face the highest tax burden in Prince George's County and Montgomery County, but people at the bottom end of the income scale face the highest tax burden in Arlington. Alexandria ranked second, and Fairfax County ranked third in terms of the tax burden on those making $25,000 a year.

"The whole anti-immigrant backlash from 2006 to present in Prince William was against the influx of people of color, particularly immigrants, moving from being priced out and taxed out apparently of this area and moving down there," says Jon Liss, director of Tenants and Workers United.

Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette says the study did not look at services, noting that low-income residents in Arlington benefit from public schools and affordable housing programs. And Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille says offering services is not cheap.

"Talk to people who live in D.C., and they wish they had better services, you know?" Euille says. "EMS services, for instance, better police response times, more recreation centers. So it's what you invest in."

The report includes a side-by-side analysis of local income taxes, sales taxes and automobile taxes for six jurisdictions in the region. It concludes that wealthy people face a greater tax burden in Maryland, while poor people face a greater tax burden in Virginia. Among the Northern Virginia jurisdictions, Fairfax County has the lowest tax burden.

But Arthur Purves, president of the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance, says that doesn't mean much.

"Saying that Fairfax has a lower tax burden than Arlington is like saying that Mount McKinley is not as high as Mount Everest," Purves says.

The analysis concluded that D.C. residents face the lowest tax burden at all levels of income.


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