Friday, May 16, 2003

Politics: The foul smell of jock taxes

As part of the District of Columbia's desperate plea for the Montreal Expos, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton has introduced legislation which would permit the District government to impose a special tax on any income "derived from services rendered within the District as a member of a professional baseball team." In other words, anyone who plays Major League Baseball within D.C.'s borders will get a special income tax surcharge—perhaps as high as 20%—for each day they spend in the city. The District will then presumably use this money to help defray the costs of publicly financing a new baseball stadium.

Major League Baseball is not happy about this idea, nor obviously is the players union. I sympathize with the union on this, but the baseball owners have no standing to complain here. After all, these same owners are demanding D.C. foot the entire bill for a new stadium via taxpayer funding. If it's not okay to tax their players, why is it any more acceptable to have all city residents—most of whom have no use for baseball—pay extra sales taxes?

Of course, once you take the D.C. government's position that private property rights are subservient to the interests of city leaders, it becomes a race to the bottom to see whose rights get more violated. In the end, everybody loses under that system.

No comments: