Racialized Tax Inequity: Wealth, Racism, And The U.S. System of Taxation

Strand, Palma Joy,Mirkay, Nicholas A. | April 30, 2020

This Article describes the connection between wealth inequality and the increasing structural racism in the U.S. tax system since the 1980s. A long-term sociological view (the why) reveals the historical racialization of wealth and a shift in the tax system overall beginning around 1980 to protect and exacerbate wealth inequality, which has been fueled by racial animus and anxiety. A critical tax view (the how) highlights a shift over the same time period at both federal and state levels from taxes on wealth, to taxes on income, and then to taxes on consumption—from greater to less progressivity. Both of these shifts disproportionately benefit Whites while disproportionately burdening Blacks and other people of color.