Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Leo P. Martinez (UC-Hastings), Latinos and the Internal Revenue Code: A Tax Policy Primer for the New Administration, 20 Harv. Latinx L. Rev. 101 (2017):
With the expectation that the new administration and the new Congress will undertake significant tax reform, this article seeks to provide a comprehensive view of how seemingly neutral legislation in the form of the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”) disadvantages Latinos. If tax reform is ever to correct the many inequities outlined in this paper, education of legislators and other policymakers is of paramount importance. To this end, I recognize that the complexity of the Code is such that the big picture is often lost in details. Accordingly, this article is not a technical one. Instead, I paint with a broad brush seeking to acquaint the non-tax expert as to how the Code impinges on a particular population in a way that surely must be unintended. It is with this breadth and accessibility that perhaps some meaningful tax reform is possible.
With these preliminary observations, Part I begins with a brief overview of Latinos and taxation. Part II of this Article will address Tax Policy and Latinos. Part II discusses in turn: the tax effects of Latino culture; the effects of Latino low-income status; taxation and Latino educational attainment; and undocumented residents. Part III deals with particular problem areas which include relative tax burdens and Latinos, Social Security and pension plans, the earned income tax credit, and state tax issues. My conclusion is that the seemingly neutral provisions of the Code affect Latinos in specific and non-equitable ways. In order for legislators and policymakers to undertake informed tax reform that is fundamentally fair to all requires a broad appreciation that the Code can affect different populations of taxpayers in different ways.