Tax penalty not authorized, never implemented

Re: "CFO surprise? Not really," May 23

Jonetta Rose Barras cites a number of allegations that the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue failed to collect revenue due the city that are not supported by either facts or evidence.Once again, she demonstrates her philosophy of never letting verification of the facts ruin a good story.

The latest instance is her claim that OTR did not collect penalties from businesses that paid their taxes by check instead of electronically.

This matter was raised by the inspector general.However, the IG acknowledges that there is a question about the legal authority to collect these penalties. In fact, there is a long line of case law in which theSupreme Court and other courts have ruled that a government entity cannot collect penalties unless a law passed by the legislature specifically authorizes or directs that such penalties be levied.

A regulation was written to provide for the collection of these payments that erroneously included a penalty provision. But because the penalty clause was not authorized by the law, it was never implemented.

So Barras wants the District to harass and bully the small businesses that make up the vast majority of firms that paidon timeby check for penalties the law does not require.

David Umansky

Public affairs officer,

Office of the Chief Financial Officer

EPA has terrible track record on FOIA requests

Re: "EPA inspector general investigating claims agency used fees to block FOIA requests," May 16

The Environmental Protection Agency's chief Freedom of Information officer is under intense scrutiny from Congress for his role in EPA's latest FOIA scandal.

EPA is into its second FOIA scandal of this year.First was the revelation that the EPA chief used a secret "alias" email account. The second was EPA's preferential treatment to environmental groups, and making it harder for conservative groups to obtain government records.

With this track record, who in the press or the First Amendment rights community is willing to trust EPA on anything related to FOIA?

Perhaps EPA should be more concerned about compliance with the law than trying to build FOIA online.

David Kruger


President must lead nation away from death

Re: "President Obama offers comforting words to grieving Boston: 'You will run again'," April 18

I want to thank President Obama for his words at the Interfaith Service at Boston. I am sure they were a comfort to many hurting people. His message about "facing evil" and standing up to those who would "bring death to innocents," and his call to "choose love" is much needed in our society of violence and death.

Inspired by Obama's own words, I stand up to the president and his party over the 40-year holocaust that has caused the horrible deaths of millions of truly innocent humans who did not choose to be terminated. They did nothing to deserve to be killed by the very people who should love them.

I beg our president to take a courageous stance for love by leading our country out of death. Stop killing innocents at home and abroad. In place of war, bring peace. In place of abortion, offer mothers with unwanted but innocent babies a way to bring them to life outside of the womb and to give them to those who will answer his call.

As long as our country is in the business of killing, it will suffer from the deaths of innocents within its borders.

The Rev. Michael T. Buttner

Forest Hill, Md.