University of Wisconsin–Madison

The Illusion of Race-Neutral Tax Policy

Type Policy Brief or Report
Year 2019
Level City or Town, National, State
State(s) All States
Policy Areas Civil Rights, Economic Justice
Examining tax laws only in the context of class is a “colorblind” approach to tax and economic policy that ignores how tax policies affect communities based on race. Historical instances of explicitly racist tax policies, such as the slave tax, continue to impact state and local tax systems. Additionally, housing, education, and criminal justice policies have contributed to white wealth accumulation and depressed the abilities of communities of color to acquire wealth on the same scale. Dismantling policies that unfairly perpetuate white economic advantage requires understanding forces that created such advantages and how they remain ingrained through current policies. Acknowledging the racially differential impacts of tax policies is necessary in building equitable and sustainable tax systems.

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