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WASTE WATCH: Income Tax Debate
RIVERSIDE -- The city of riverside has an income tax, but everyone who works in the city isn't paying up. However, the city is fighting back against legislation that makes it legal for certain workers to skip out on income tax, which is fairly low at 1.5 percent.
Riverside has been fighting the legal battle for more than 15 years. It's cost about a half million taxpayer dollars. The goal is to get Wright-Patterson's civilian employees who work on the Riverside portion of the base to pay income tax just like everyone else who works in the city. Right now they're exempt.
"I don't think it's fair. I think everyone needs to pay income taxes irregardless. I'm sure they're happy with not paying income tax. I'm sure it makes their day. But that really needs to change," said Jason Butler, who regularly shops at a strip mall about a mile away from the base.
"They should pay because they're just people. It's doesn't matter that you work for the Army. It's the same thing as working at McDonald's or working in an auto shop. You're still paying taxes," said Julia Sumner of Riverside.
Current state law makes Wright-Patt civilians exempt from local income tax. That's why Riverside has been suing the state, claiming the law is unconstitutional. The lawsuit is currently in federal court.
"We would like to think that in the end we will prevail. In our position this is about equity, about equality," said Riverside City Manager Bryan Chodkowski.
Riverside believes the fact that only civilian Wright-Patt employees are exempt from local income tax isn't fair to the city or its residents. Civilian workers at other federal facilities, like the Dayton V.A. do have to pay city income taxes. Riverside says income tax from base employees would generate a million dollars a year. That's revenue that the city says would make the half million dollar legal bill worth it.
"That would buy for us two fire trucks. And that's important to our citizens," said Riverside Mayor Bill Flaute.
Years ago, Riverside went directly to Wright-Patt leadership and asked them to withhold income tax from employees. The base declined.
In a statement released Wednesday, Wright-Patt said, "Riverside never gained jurisdiction to levy municipal taxes on income earned on base."
Riverside says it's unclear how much longer the suit will continue.
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