WASHINGTON, DC — 83 percent of D.C. voters support raising taxes on wealthy residents and corporations to prevent cuts to essential services, with nearly four out of five residents opposing budget cuts that would hurt Black and brown residents, according to a poll released today by the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute and D.C. Action for Children.
The poll shows that D.C. voters support raising local taxes on the District’s wealthiest residents to help meet new budget challenges and better afford vital public services, such as housing and child care. Another supermajority of D.C. voters, 76 percent, supports eliminating corporate tax breaks that don’t contribute to economic growth. These findings come as the D.C. Council finalizes the 2021 and revised 2020 budgets amidst a $1.5 billion revenue shortfall caused by the pandemic and a related spike in joblessness.
Beyond support for raising new revenue, the poll also found support for the District to move in bold new directions for community safety, with nearly two-thirds of voters supporting ending D.C. public school’s $23 million contract with the Metropolitan Police Department and investing more in students.
Key findings from the poll include:
- 83 percent of D.C. voters support raising local taxes on the District’s wealthiest residents to maintain vital public services.
- When asked about the fact that D.C. has one of the worst racial income divides in the country, nearly 4 out of 5 voters supported raising taxes on wealthy residents to prevent this situation from worsening through budget cuts to essential services that harm Black and brown residents.
- 78 percent and 72 percent of District voters support raising taxes on residents earning taxable income of $350,000 or more and $250,000 or more, respectively.
- 65 percent of voters support removing police-contracted personnel from schools and instead reinvesting those dollars in school-based mental health and student support programs.
- Only 1 in 5 DC voters said “no” when asked if D.C. should be doing more to respond to the economic downturn caused by COVID-19.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s proposed budget, released last month, avoided deep across-the-board cuts to social services—but would freeze pay for city workers and underfund some essential programs—without requiring more from those with a greater ability to contribute.The top 20 percent of households in the District have an average income that is 32 times more than the average income for households in the bottom 20 percent. Wealth concentration is even starker—the median white family has a staggering 81 times as much wealth as the median Black family.
Despite recent progress, the District’s tax system remains unfair where residents earning $60,000 in taxable income per year pay the same rate as those making $350,000. The failure to institute a more progressive tax system has directly contributed to the racial wealth divide in the District. That’s why advocates are pushing for a fairer tax system. For example, asking individuals with more than $350,000 in taxable income, or those in the top two tax brackets, to pay a 3 percentage point surcharge would raise $186 million. Wealthy taxpayers would still be better off due to ?the massive 2017 federal “Trump tax cuts,” which provided the top 5 percent of D.C. taxpayers tax breaks totaling $500 million.
“Knowing that the pandemic has already exacerbated long standing stark racial and economic divides, we can’t tolerate flat funding or cuts that deepen inequities. We know that tax justice is racial justice, and the results of this poll show that increasing taxes on wealthy individuals is what the people of D.C. want. The D.C. Council should raise revenue to meet immediate needs and lay the groundwork for a more just economic recovery,” stated Tazra Mitchell, Policy Director of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute.
“All options must be on the table as D.C. Council prepares a budget that meets human needs, advances racial justice, and ensures those hardest hit by the pandemic are not hurt further. This poll shows that the residents of D.C. want the D.C. Council to raise revenue, as our Coalition’s revenue sign-on letter urges.Targeted tax increases will increase equity and generate new revenues to fund essential services that the Mayor cut or significantly underfunded in her budget,” stated Stephanie Sneed, Executive Director, DC Fair Budget Coalition.
“The District’s social systems are a long way from justice for our Black and Brown children, young people, families and educators. One key step toward achieving racial equity is ensuring essential public programs are properly funded and sustained long-term. This poll is yet more evidence that the DC Council must avoid knee-jerk cuts to vital public services like healthcare, housing, education, and child care and instead raise revenue to meet the needs of our young people and protect critical health and mental health benefits, out-of-school time and child care programs,” stated Kimberly Perry, Executive Director, DC Action for Children.
DC Fiscal Policy Institute and DC Action for Children commissioned Public Policy Polling (PPP) to conduct a Just Recovery DC poll, which took place in the field June 15th and 16th, 2020. PPP surveyed 590 DC voters. The margin of error rate for the poll is +/- 4 percent.
The DC Fiscal Policy Institute promotes opportunity and widespread prosperity for all residents of the District of Columbia through thoughtful policy solutions.
DC Action for Children is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to ensuring that all children in the District of Columbia have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
The Fair Budget Coalition advocates for budget and public policy initiatives that address poverty and human needs in the District of Columbia. The Fair Budget Coalition accomplishes these goals by leveraging the collective power of its member organizations.