GLAA endorses deed recordation tax bill
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GLAA endorses deed recordation tax bill
for tax equity, suggests improvements

Fighting for Equal Rights Since 1971
P. O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013

Delivered before the Committee on Finance and Revenue

DECEMBER 10, 2003

Chairman Evans, Committee members and fellow residents:

Good afternoon. My name is Bob Summersgill. I am the treasurer and immediate past president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C. (GLAA), the oldest continuously active gay and lesbian civil rights group in the country.

GLAA strongly supports bill 15-462 and we are pleased to see that every member of the Council has co-introduced the bill. GLAA has been working for almost 30 years to secure the rights and responsibilities encompassed by marriage for committed same-sex couples. The Health Care Benefits Expansion Act of 1992, introduced by Councilmember Evans, was a first step in that direction. This bill takes that Act another step by eliminating an unreasonable tax on domestic partners.

The current law forces domestic partners to pay taxes in situations where married couples are exempt. As such, it is a barrier to home ownership by imposing an onerous process of creating a new deed and tax for what should be a relatively easy and inexpensive procedure. If we are to achieve the Mayor’s goal of attracting 100,000 new residents to the District, we will have to make the city much more attractive to young urban professionals, both gay and straight. This bill helps encourage people to move into the District by showing that we will recognize their families.

We do have suggestions to improve the bill. We have identified four sections of the D.C. Code which should be amended to include domestic partners for property tax relief and property rights. One of these four sections imposes a restriction on married couples that should likewise apply to domestic partners. In each of these sections of code, domestic partners are currently treated as strangers instead of the intimate family members that they are. That needs to be corrected.

First, section 47-902(5) “[e]numeration of transfers exempt from tax” clearly intends for family members not to suffer a tax burden in transferring real property. There is no reason to continue to exclude domestic partners.

§ 47-902. Enumeration of transfers exempt from tax.

The following transfers shall be exempt from the tax imposed by this chapter:

(5) Transfers between husband and wife, or parent and child, without actual consideration therefor;

This section needs to have “domestic partner,” inserted after “husband and wife, or”.

Second, as Councilmember Carol Schwartz pointed out at the time of introduction, domestic partners should not have to face excessive taxes in adding each other to their car tittles.

§ 50-1501.02. Motor vehicles and trailers; expiration; certificates and tags; sale or transfer; Mayor to issue rules.

(e)(4) The name of a spouse may be added as joint owner to the registration of a motor vehicle or trailer, subject to the applicable provisions of law relating to the titling of motor vehicles and trailers;

Section 50-1501.02(e)(4) should be amended to strike the word “spouse” and add “spouse or domestic partner” in its place.

Third, when an apartment is converted into a condominium, tenants have the right to buy. In the unfortunate case of the tenant dying during this process, the tenant’s spouse or children are able to maintain the right to purchase the unit. This right needs to be extended to domestic partners as well.

§ 42-3404.02(b)(c) "Tenant opportunity to purchase; "sale" defined."
"For purposes of the preceding sentence, the term "member's of the decedent's family" means (i) a surviving spouse of the decedent, lineal descendants of the decedent, or spouses of lineal descendants of the decedent..."

This sentence needs "or domestic partner" and "or domestic partners" added after "spouse" and "spouses" respectively.

Fourth, in § 42-3651.05(c)(3) "Appointment of a receiver; continuation of ex parte appointment" domestic partners should be treated as other family members as people who are inappropriate to be appointed receiver for their partner’s property where only a disinterested party should be named. This is one of the many restrictions that are as appropriate to be placed on domestic partners as it is for married couples.

§ 42-3651.05. Appointment of a receiver; continuation of ex parte appointment.
(a)(1) After a hearing, the Court may appoint a receiver for a rental housing accommodation . . . . . .
(c) The Court shall not appoint as a receiver:
(1) An employee of a District of Columbia government agency that licenses or provides a financial payment to the type of housing accommodation being placed in receivership;
(2) A person who has a financial interest in any other real property in common with the owner of the property being placed under receivership; or
(3) A parent, child, grandchild, spouse, sibling, first cousin, aunt, or uncle of the owner of the property being placed under receivership or a tenant of the property being placed under receivership, whether the relationship arises by blood, marriage, or adoption.

In section 3, "domestic partner" should be added to the list of family members and "domestic partner" to the list of how people are related.

Thank you for your consideration of this bill and these amendments. I am available to answer any questions that you may have.

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