The tax law’s race-blind approach produces bad tax policy. This essay uses three very different examples to show how failing to openly and honestly address race generates bias, and how devasting the results can be. Ignoring race does not solve problems; it creates them. ProPublica has shown, for example, that because of the perils of filing income taxes while Black, the five most heavily audited counties in the United States are Black and poor.
The racial bias long tolerated—and sometimes exploited—by tax scholars and policymakers affects all aspects of the tax law. In 1986, Sam Gilliam was denied tax deductions that others in similar situations enjoyed. In 2000, Liberia was threatened with sanctions for being a tax haven, but Switzerland was not. In 2014, Eric Garner died in police custody after being suspected of evading a tax. In each instance, anti-Blackness played a role in ways the tax law either ignores or actively leverages.
Steven A. Dean, Filing While Black: The Casual Racism of the Tax Law 2022 ULR 801 (2022). https://doi.org/10.26054/0d-yc2g-4asd