In DC, since the late 1970s, there has been a decrease in tax rates and thus a reduction in financial inputs into the city budget. According to a DC Fiscal Policy Institute report, the top DC income tax rate was "reduced from 11 percent to 9.5 percent in the late 1980s, and all tax rates were reduced further after 2000 under the Tax Parity Act." Since that report was written, the top DC income tax rate was further reduced to 8.5%. Property taxes also fell from $1.83 per $100 of assessed value in 1975 to $0.85 now. DC tax rates remain the lowest in the region (see DC FPI chart to the right).
Of course, economic growth could off-set decreasing tax rates. However, the economic recession from December 2007 to June 2009 and the continuing lagging economy has undermined this potential, which means that the DC government is receiving less financial input.
In DC and globally, there has also been increasing inequality. The standard measure of inequality is the Gini coefficient, which ranges from 0 (lowest level of inequality) to 1 (highest level).
- According to the Census, DC now has the highest Gini coefficient in the US and thus the highest level of inequality nationwide: .532. We also have the most households in the nation making over $200,000 (8.4% of households or 21,194 households).
- According to the Census, in DC at least in 2006, the share of income going to the poorest 20% of the population was by far the lowest in the country (1.9% as opposed to the national 3.4%) and by far the highest for the wealthiest 20% (56.3% as opposed to 49.9%).
- For DC, the Gini index increased from 1979 (.450), to 1989 (.492), to 1999 (.549), which meant more inequality. We see a slight decrease from 1999, but the current Gini index of .532 is still well above its pre-1990 level. From the UN data, it seems that this level might be on par with Brazil, Honduras, and Papua New Guinea, countries with the highest levels of inequality in the world. The majority of countries in the world have lower levels than DC.