Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

a

very enormous expenditure, and that it should be looked into before # Connecticut Avenue is ruined.

The Federation of Women's Clubs deferred action on the gasoline tax because at that time we had just been notified there was a 1-cent increase in the gasoline tax made by the companies.

I would like to point out in the testimony of the companies that they have not shown any concern over the fact that they raised the price 1 cent, but they are concerned over the fact that there might be a little bit of extra revenue the District could get if there was another cent on it.

Now, I have talked to the taxi drivers as I ride around the city, and even this morning I talked to one of them, and he said, “Lady, I don't mind a cent tax on gasoline. We have a low rate on it in the city." And I said, “It is a right funny thing that a bunch of you men were up on the Hill.” And he said, "Lady, people will talk about anything,

, and they will sign any kind of a petition if they are asked to."

I think you gentlemen know, if you get a good speaker in front of a group of people, and he talks in a very convincing way and in an energetic way, why, people will agree to anything he says, and they will sign anything; just like the sales-tax petition that has been going around the streets. I do not think that 100 of the people who signed the petition would know what the sa és tax was, and I do not think they know. People will sign anything. They do not give study to it, but we do feel that the Federation of Women's Clubs is representative group.

Our president is a widely traveled woman. She is a woman connected with public affairs, and she has given study to this question.

My legislative group has given study, and my club group and I think you will find that the rank and file of the city of Washington are in favor of a sales tax, and after all, gentlemen, we do the buying for the city; remember that.

Senator Cain. You are in favor of paying for the improvements you seek for the city?

Mrs. WRIGHT. Yes; we are, and we know in the long run that it will give us more money in our pockets to spend than if the real-estate tax is increased.

Now, we know that, and we feel that it would be a very good thing for the city, and if we want to have all of these improvements, if we want better schools, we have just got to have the money for the things.

The Board of Public Welfare is a board that needs money. I would like to point out to you gentlemen that 3 years ago the Federation of Women's Clubs had a special hearing with both the Senate and House about the need of the Welfare Department. Our plea was so well considered here that the money was immediately granted to us for a new receiving home for the children of Washington. That home could have been built 2 years ago, but a very ill-advised group that had nothing whatever to do with the District or Welfare Board managed to defeat the thing for months, and the children are still sleeping on the floors over at the receiving home, although Congress did appropriate the money at the time. Now, that is one case where we feel that the divided authority is a very bad thing. If the Board of Public Welfare had been able to go ahead, as they planned, our children would have a decent institution, but the costs have gone up so because the Commissioners listened to an unauthorized group that

а

99538-47-52

headed these things, and it is rather discouraging to us women because we have worked for them, and we are interested in the city.

As I think I told you before, my folks settled here over 150 years ago, one branch of them. We have an interest in this city. This is the Capital of the greatest Nation of the world, and we want to see it go on and see our Capital City well kept, and, as I say, we would like to see a sales tax enacted.

Mr. BATES. Thank you, Mrs. Wright.
Senator Cain. You have a city that you can well be proud of.
Mrs. Wright. I know it, and I think it is because Congress runs it.

Senator CAIN. I wonder if Mr. Vernis Absher is here; he is a member of the Southeast Washington Citizens' Association. STATEMENT OF VERNIS ABSHER, REPRESENTING THE SOUTHEAST

WASHINGTON CITIZENS' ASSOCIATION, WASHINGTON, D. C. Mr. ABSHER. Mr. Chairman, my name is Vernis Absher, and I am representing the Southeast Citizens' Association.

I have a resolution here which was passed by our association a few weeks ago which I would like to read. It is very short.

This is the proposed resolution as to District of Columbia revenue:

RESOLUTION OF SOUTHEAST CITIZENS' ASSOCIATION ON DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

REVENUE

Whereas the District of Columbia is in need of additional revenue in order to carry on its regular municipal functions and to enlarge and improve its facilities to take care of its increasing population;

To mention one item of insufficiency: The public schools are inadequate in that the buildings are being inadequately maintained and serviced. The grounds are poorly kept in many places, and new buildings are needed in many localities. There are many instances where the surroundings of the schools are very unsightly and unattractive; and

Whereas only in two ways can such additional revenue be provided, namely (1) by an increase in the annual Federal contribution, and (2) by an increase in present tax rates and/or the imposition of additional taxes; and

Whereas it is desirable that the annual contribution of the Federal Government to the District of Columbia be proportionate to the benefits received in said District by said Federal Government; and

Whereas it is imperative that every person who earns a livelihood in the District of Columbia shall, through taxation, contribute toward the expense of maintaining the District municipal government: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Southeast Washington Citizens' Association regularly assembled, That said association favors and recommends the following changes in, and additions to, the existing tax structure of the District of Columbia :

I. That the sales tax, as proposed by the District of Columbia Commissioners and introduced in Congress by bill H. Ř. 2290, be enacted and that the proceeds be allocated and used exclusively for the improvement and extension of our public school facilities.

II. That the existing income-tax law be broadened to include the incomes of all persons maintaining residences in the District of Columbia, whether or not they also maintain residences in other States, as well as all incomes derived from sources within the District, whether of residents or nonresidents of said District, provided that nonresidents should be allowed credits for the tax they pay on the same incomes to other States, providing that such States reciprocate by the granting of similar credits to District of Columbia residents.

III. That there be an increase in the rate of taxation of all real estate in the District of Columbia held for investment or profit purposes, with no increase in the rate on real estate occupied as dwellings by the owners thereof.

IV. That the annual Federal contribution to the District of Columbia be in direct proportion to the benefits received by said Federal Government, including not only its ownership of tax-free real estate, but also the value of all services, such as water, provided by the District of Columbia.

Now, Mr. Chairman, I would like to make just a few remarks about the city of Washington in comparison with other cities.

I have observed since the time I came to the city of Washington some 30 years ago that the comparative beauty of this city and the conveniences of this city compared with other cities has changed considerably

Thirty years ago many people thought it was the greatest thing that ever happened in their lives to be able to say they visited Washington city, and we would talk a great deal about its beauty in comparison with other cities.

Last year it was my privilege and pleasure to take quite an extensive trip around this country, going down the east coast and crossing over around the Gulf, and over to the west coast, going up the west coast, and coming back through the Central States, and I find that there are many cities that compare very favorably and some are even much better; much more money spent in beautification; driveways and so forth around the city are broader, and there is more money spent in upkeep and the beautification of those driveways. Up around New York State they have beautiful driveways that just outdo Washington city to a great extent, and down through the South they have a good many now, and out on the west coast.

Before I made this trip I thought Washington city was the most beautiful city in the whole country, just outstanding, and now I find that it is different.

I think that Congress should reflect back to some of the days previous to 1922, and greatly increase its contribution here in order that we might have this city more outstanding and more comparable. I would like to see this city the most beautiful, outstanding city in the whole world; it should be, being the head of the greatest Government in the world.

Mr. BATES. Thank you very much.
Mr. ABSHER. Thank you.

Mr. Bates. Is Mr. Brylawski here, president of the Motion Picture Theater Owners of Metropolitan D. C.

Senator Cain. Of course, he is. Your name having been previously referred to, we are ready to promptly listen, Mr. Witness.

Mr. BRYLAWSKI. Give me a chance of rebuttal.
Senator CAIN. Yes.

STATEMENT OF A. JULIAN BRYLAWSKI, PRESIDENT, MOTION

PICTURE THEATER OWNERS OF METROPOLITAN D. C., WASHINGTON, D. C. Mr. BRYLAWSKI. Gentlemen, I would like to submit as part of the record a one-page summary of some of the objections that we have to H. R. 2279, and not burden you with a lot of conversation.

(The document referred to is as follows:)

MOVIES AND TAXES

UNIVERSAL ENTERTAINMENT

Seeing movies is as much a part of the American way of life as reading the daily newspaper. The motion-picture industry is American born and Americandeveloped. In some 16,500 theaters in the United States today more than 80,000,000 tickets are sold weekly to meet the demand for the country's first choice of inexpensive entertainment and visual information.

TAX ON MASSES

An admission tax on motion-picture shows is a tax on the masses it affects not a few, but every man, woman, and child in the Nation who attends the movies.

MOVIEGOERS NOT “LUXURY SPENDERS" Classifying attendance at motion-picture theaters as “luxury spending" in the same category as spending for expensive furs, jewelry, and liquor, is an arbitrary conclusion not supported by the facts. The great mass of motion-picture patrons are the low-salaried working people who find in the medium of the motion picture an economical means of mass entertainment and enlightenment. For this great mass, it is the one type of entertainment which families can afford.

THE EXHIBITOR'S STAGGERING TAX LOAD

Look at some of the taxes to which the industry is now subject :

Federal: Social security; Federal income taxes; 20-percent admissions tax; unemployment.

District of Columbia : District of Columbia income taxes; real-property taxes; special assessments; license fees; inspection and protection fees for police, fire, and health purposes ; 5-percent tax on corporate earnings.

TAX COMPARISONS SHOW INEQUITIES

Motion-picture exhibitors are more than willing to pay their just share of taxes levied uniformly for the public welfare. However, to single out the amusement industry for an unjust burden of taxes is arbitrary and discriminatory. In many instances, the taxes imposed upon the amusement industry have been found, upon comparison, to amount to several times the taxes imposed on other local industries in the same community.

PUBLIC-DEBT REMINDERS

Posting an admission-tax schedule on the box office is a constant reminder of the excessive cost of government-city, State, and Federal.

EXCESSIVE TAXATION IMPEDED FREEDOM OF COMMUNICATION

Freedom of communication embraces not only freedom of speech, press, and radio, but also of the motion picture. In the community, the motion-picture theater occupies a place on a par with the press and radio in molding publie 'pinion. Its power for good should not be destroyed by excessive taxation.

ADMISSION TAXES IMPEDE CHILD DEVELOPMENT

No distinction is made in the tax between an adult and a child-each pays his pro rata share as fixed by law. Our young children are learning more today, by reason of the contribution of motion pictures to education, than did their parents. Film classics for children, unlike books, are not always available on a bookshelf. In a relatively short time a motion picture goes out of circulation. Hence, the necessity for keeping alive for educational and cultural purposes the children's film classics. Taxes that impede the attendance of children at picture shows that inspire and uplift their moral and cultural aims do more harm than good.

Mr. BRYLAWSKI. I naturally felt very gratified that the Commissioners had said that they would not press for the amusement tax, but I would like to say for Mrs. Wright's benefit that we are not getting off scot free.

There has been some talk in the papers, and with some substance, that the license fees on theaters or possibly a seat tax would not be unacceptable. Frankly, I will say it is not acceptable.

As a matter of fact, when the Commissioners held public hearings on these various tax bills, and knowing the need for increased revenues,

we were very frank in telling the Commissioners that we would rather pay an increased tax ourselves than have a tax on our patrons.

That is not as altruistic as it sounds, because we know that an increase in the amusement tax would naturally cause a great drop in attendance, and cities that have ventured and experimented with the amusement tax have found out in some cases that they would have been far better off paying themselves; attendance has dropped alarmingly in certain cities. I know of cities that show a record of 35 to 40 percent in the drop of admissions by reason of additional taxes.

At the time we had that hearing, therefore, in answer to Commissioner Mason's inquiry did we have any suggestions to raise revenues, I told them at the time that I thought the motion-picture theaters of the District of Columbia were paying a low license tax, and quoted to him figures showing that what we were paying in other cities, and offered to raise our license fee ten times.

Senator Cain. Would you go into that a little for us as to what you were paying

Mr. BRYLAWSKI. Yes. According to a law that was passed I do not remember the date, but I know who proposed the law—the license fees of the amusement places in the District of Columbia were supposed to be set up on the basis of cost of inspection.

Now, let me say to you gentlemen, if I may, without taking too much time, that we are inspected frequently; we are inspected very thoroughly once a year, for which we pay an inspection fee; that is in addition to a license fee, but it is a very moderate one; and then our exits and the conditions of aisles are inspected frequently, all with our entire cooperation because we feel that anything we can do—that the city exercises the authority on for the safety of our patrons—is wholeheartedly our problem, too. For that service we pay $30 a year for a motion-picture house and $50 a year for a house using movable scenery.

The disparity there is very great; that is, that a motion picture theater using no movable scenery of any kind, there the conditions remain the same all the time, I mean from week to week; whereas a theater such as the National or the Capitol or the Earle, when we had shows there, bring in new performers and new scenery every week, and they require an inspection every week because every bit of that scenery must be tested and found to be fire-resistant or fireproofed before it can be used, and theaters having movable scenery are also compelled to have other fireproof safeguards, sprinklers, water curtains, asbestos curtains, and standpipes which also require frequent inspection. Therefore, there is really a disparity between the $30 that the motion picture house, per se, pays, and the larger theaters; they should pay a great deal more, but still the price was set by the Congress at $50. We offered to raise our rates 10 times in the hope of raising some

Of course, it will not meet the deficit of the District of Columbia.

Senator Cain. How many movie houses are there?

Mr. BRYLAWSKI. Sixty-six. They have been collecting $2,000, and we proposed that they collect $20,000, but that also brought up at the time, and I think now it is being considered by the Commissionerswe also brought up the fact that if the licenses were raised 10 times that they should be on a more equitable basis. There was no reason

revenue,

« PreviousContinue »