Posts Tagged ‘taxes’

Paper, Plastic, or Canvas?

Yesterday, a fellow Metblogger Tweeted with a “Red Alert”:  the DC Council had passed the five-cent plastic bag tax!  The Post reported that “The D.C. Council voted unanimously yesterday to assess a 5-cent tax on paper and plastic bags to try to discourage their use, putting the District at the forefront of efforts nationwide to promote reusable shopping bags.”  The tax will apply to food-service providers, grocers, and pharmacies.  Could the District be on track to join San Francisco as the only major city to ban plastic bags outright?

The bag tax is designed to limit pollution in the Anacostia and its tributaries — proceeds will be used for the Anacostia River Cleanup Fund.  Will the city distribute any reusable bags to its residents to get them started?  Businesses who sell reusable bags will qualify for a rebate of one penny on each bag sold (or, of they offer a discount for using the bags, two cents).  Will they subsidize the price of reusable bags for their customers?

I’ve seen reactions to the news ranging from, “Hooray!  Let’s dance with glee,” to “Oh great.  Another tax for District residents.”  Regardless of the means or how one feels about the bag tax, though, I hope we can all agree that we don’t want the Anacostia looking like this any more:

Anacostia River, near Poplar Point

Anacostia River, near Poplar Point

The Council will need to vote again on the measure before it goes to the Mayor for his signature.  What do you think, DC?

SOUND-OFF: Paying DC Middle-Schoolers for Good Grades

SOUND-OFF presents a current controversy in the news, and invites you to speak your mind.

DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee

DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee

DC is one of three cities that participates in Harvard University’s experimental system called Capital Gains– the others are New York and Chicago. The controversial program allows about 3,000 DC middle school students collect up to $200 per month for good behavior, attendance, completing homework, and achieving good grades. Harvard and the DC taxpayers split the bill- $1.35 million each.

The goal of the program is to reverse the current trend in DC education- 8% of students pass math and only 12% are proficient in English. We’ll see what the results are. The first round of checks, totaling $137,813 and averaging about $43 per student, went out this week.

SOUND-OFF TIME:

  • Is it right to bribe kids to do the right thing? DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee views it as “positive incentive.” She adds that there are “incentives to do all the wrong things out on the street, and we believe that having positive incentives for doing the right thing is a good counter balance to that.” Is that a valid point?
  • Is it right to isolate cities like DC for programs like this? Roland Fryer of Harvard compares the incentive based program to the idea of rich families giving their children “shiny red cars at graduation.” DC is an impoverished city in many areas, but it is one of hundreds if not thousands of towns and cities that are suffering academically. Is it okay for DC to use federal funding paid by these other towns and cities on a program like this?
  • Should the spending of the money be monitored? It is wonderful that accounts are being created at SunTrust Bank for the students in the program, and it is even better that the bank is providing free money-management training, but at the end of the day, these middle school students have cash to spend. Isn’t there a risk of some students using the money to “do all the wrong things out on the street?” Would a VISA system with statement oversight work better?

YOUR TURN. WEIGH IN ON THE ISSUE. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD.

Murky DC Evicted, Tax Charges Loom

A few days back we wrote about the eviction of Murky Coffee’s Capitol Hill shop. Now, it seems that they weren’t paying more than just their rent. There’s a $427,000 tax bill waiting for them at the DC Office of Tax & Revenue for 18 months of unpaid sales taxes and franchise taxes.

It’s pretty much a guarantee that Murky Coffee in DC is gone for good. Murky in Arlington is under a separate corporation, but the Post reports that they owe $20,000 to the Virginia Commissioner of the Revenue.

You can read Nick Cho’s explanation for the events, as well.

I hope that they’re able to keep their other shop open, settle their debts with the DC OTR and get a new shop open in DC. The Staff of Murky Coffee has always been excellent, both in service and in personality, and their coffee is the best I’ve had, and Murky in Arlington has been my “third place” for years. Here’s hoping they can get all of it worked out. Good luck, Nick & the Gang.

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