Residents of Washington D. C. have no representation in Congress but must pay Federal taxes. United States persons abroad may vote–Doesn’t that make the folks in Washington the greater victims of the injustice of “taxation without representation”?
I got wind of some complaints about my claim that US persons abroad are victims of taxation without representation. I am told basically that US persons abroad can vote for a representative–”It’s mainly people like me, who live in DC, who have ‘taxation without representation’”, opined someone to me in an e-mail. Furthermore, there are apparently lawyers and other residents of the United States who don’t accept my belief that the extraterritorial taxation of US persons abroad is without representation, though no one has yet bothered to refute the points of my arguments (here and here).
As for Washington, The U.S. Supreme Court has determined that the taxation of residents of D. C. is constitutional; Chief Justice Marshall wrote:
The difference between requiring a continent with an immense population to submit to be taxed by a government having no common interest with it, separated from it by a vast ocean, restrained by no principle of apportionment, and associated with it by no common feelings, and permitting the representatives of the American people, under the restrictions of our Constitution, to tax a part of the society which is either in a state of infancy advancing to manhood, looking forward to complete equality so soon as that state of manhood shall be attained, as is the case with the territories, or which has voluntarily relinquished the right of representation and has adopted the whole body of Congress for its legitimate government, as is the case with the District, is too obvious not to present itself to the minds of all. Although in theory it might be more congenial to the spirit of our institutions to admit a representative from the District, it may be doubted whether, in fact, its interests would be rendered thereby the more secure, and certainly the Constitution does not consider their want of a representative in Congress as exempting it from equal taxation.
While it is regrettable that D. C. residents have no representative, it is nevertheless mitigated by several circumstances: (1) The residents of D. C. benefit from the Federal taxes in general as most of the jobs in the city are there either to serve the Federal government or to serve those who serve the Federal government. More than any other place in the United States, these residents benefit from the Federal government expenditures, so it would be too ironic for them to complain that they have taxation without representation. (2) The U.S. Constitution provides for the creation of the D. C. and therefore created a place whose residents did not benefit from representation. (3) Most residents of D. C. could live outside in one of the border states and commute to their jobs. Of course, then they would have to pay state taxes (but we are digressing). (4) The residents of D. C. are in no wise ineligible for the the social benefits of the federal government (welfare, food stamps, etc.).
Actually, the Internal Revenue Code (§ 7701) treats United States persons abroad as residents of Washington D.C.:
(39) Persons residing outside United StatesIf any citizen or resident of the United States does not reside in (and is not found in) any United States judicial district, such citizen or resident shall be treated as residing in the District of Columbia for purposes of any provision of this title [i.e. title 26 the Internal Revenue Code] relating to—(A) jurisdiction of courts, or(B) enforcement of summons.