80 Percent of DC Voters Support Raising Local Taxes on High-Income Residents

Income Residents to Sustain DC’s Economic Recovery, with Strong Support for Investments in Child Care and Housing
Press Release
For Immediate Release: June 23rd, 2021

Contact Info

Tawana Jacobs
DC Action


WASHINGTON, DC — Eighty percent of DC voters support raising taxes on incomes above $250,000 a year to support the District’s long-term economic recovery, a new poll from the DC Fiscal Policy Institute and DC Action shows. They agree that investing more local dollars in early childhood education and housing security is crucial, with strong support for investments in programs that address DC’s widening racial inequality.


The poll results come as the DC Council debates Mayor Muriel Bowser’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2022, which begins October 1. This is one of the most important budgets in history, with the District facing more than a projected $2 billion drop in revenue through the end of the fiscal year 2024. The Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) will provide much-needed immediate support. However, many programs need long-term, sustainable investment from local revenue to avoid a fiscal cliff and sustain the momentum made possible by ARP recovery dollars. The poll results show overwhelming support for a just recovery to ensure that our progress does not stall out.

Key findings from the poll include:

  • 80 percent of DC voters support raising taxes on incomes above $250,000 to support other residents facing hard times and to sustain DC’s recovery. The number is consistent with a similar poll from last year that found 82 percent support raising taxes on wealthy residents.
    • Support for “raising taxes on income above $250,000 for individuals to sustain a strong and just long-term economic recovery” only drops by 1 percentage point, to 79 percent, when asked within the context of DC receiving temporary ARP recovery dollars that “will run out in a few years.”
  • 78 percent of respondents supported “raising taxes on individuals’ income above $250,000 to fully fund health and economic programs to address DC’s widening racial inequality.”
  • 78 percent of District voters support increasing taxes on these high-income earners if it helps “raise wages for workers who care for and educate infants and toddlers,” and 78 percent support tax increases “to make child care more affordable for working families,” showing broad support for addressing the twin issues of low wages and the high cost of care. Support is strongest in Wards 7 and 8, where there is a lack of access to accessible and affordable quality child care.
  • Another 80 percent said they support raising taxes on high income earners to “provide housing for those without a place to live and reduce racial housing disparities” and 76 percent supported increases to “to fund programs that protect against evictions brought on by the pandemic.”
  • 84 percent of DC voters also voiced support for asking big profitable corporations like Amazon and Walmart to pay more in taxes because they currently “pay a lower income tax rate than middle-income residents.”

Advocates believe that raising DC income taxes on the highest earners and profitable corporations—who have seen their incomes and savings grow, despite the pandemic—would raise revenue and make our tax system fairer, with both elements advancing racial equity.  We currently have a District tax system where the richest 20 percent of residents pay less in taxes as a share of income than the bottom 80 percent. Because white residents account for the vast majority of DC’s highest earners, under-taxing residents at the top primarily benefits white residents, which comes at the expense of public investments in underserved communities that advance racial justice, such as early education and affordable housing programs.

That’s why advocates are pushing for a fairer tax system that advances racial justice, asking a tiny percentage of DC residents to pay more of their fair share to raise over $100 million each year. Raising taxes on individuals’ income above $250,000 would raise taxes on just 3 percent of taxpayers. About 90 percent of the tax increase would fall on residents earning about $1 million or more. A one percentage point tax increase on incomes above $250,000 dollars would cost taxpayers just more than 25 cents a day (or $100 per year) in taxes for individuals earning $260,000 and an extra $1.37 a day (or $500 in taxes per year) for those earning $300,000.

“These results show that DC residents understand the urgency of the moment. They know that the pandemic has worsened DC’s housing affordability and homelessness crises and exacerbated the city’s racial and economic divides, and they think we should do something about it. They know that even with federal aid this is the right time to ask the city’s highest income residents and profitable corporations to pay their fair share in taxes to sustain an equitable recovery and future,” said DC Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director Erica Williams. “The Council should follow their lead and raise the resources we need to build back in a way that ensures greater security for all of our communities.”

”Because the cost of high-quality child care is expensive for an overwhelming majority of the District’s families, the strong support for defraying the cost of child care is not surprising. We’re thrilled, however, to see support so consistent across all eight wards,” explained DC Action Executive Director Kimberly Perry. “Families know that in order to expand the supply of high-quality care, competitive wages are needed to keep and recruit credentialed, experienced early educators. The pandemic has put an extraordinary economic burden on too many working families with children and the programs they rely on. It’s reassuring to see District voters agree on the importance of an equitable recovery for everyone.”

DC Fiscal Policy Institute and DC Action commissioned Public Policy Polling (PPP) to conduct a Just Recovery DC poll, which took place in the field June 16 and 18, 2021. PPP surveyed 2,382 DC voters. The margin of error rate for the poll is +/- 2.0 percent.


About DC Action

DC Action is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization making the District of Columbia a place where all kids grow up safe, resilient, powerful and heard. DC Action uses research, data, and a racial equity lens to break down barriers that stand in the way of all kids reaching their full potential. Our collaborative advocacy campaigns bring the power of young people and all residents to raise their voices to create change.