Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Bearer-Friend Presents Should The IRS Know Your Race? The Challenge Of Colorblind Tax Data Virtually Today At UC-Irvine

Jeremy Bearer-Friend (George Washington) presents Should the IRS Know Your Race? The Challenge of Colorblind Tax Data, 73 Tax L. Rev. (2019), virtually at UC-Irvine today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Joshua Blank, Victor Fleischer, and Omri Marian:

Bearer Friend (2021)This Article draws from original archival sources to document a century of colorblindness in federal tax data. It traces the omission of race and ethnicity from IRS statistical publications since 1913, Joint Committee on Taxation publications since 1926, and Treasury Office of Tax Analysis publications since 1974. It shows how these omissions are exceptional relative to other areas of public policy where federal data on race and ethnicity are readily available, such as student achievement or healthcare exchange enrollments. It then evaluates the merits of colorblind tax data and argues that tax data should include race and ethnicity in order to meet goals of transparency, democracy, and equality. Colorblind tax data obscure racial inequality and prevent its remedy. Colorblind tax data also undermine the democratic accountability of tax policy. In fairness to the status quo practice of colorblindness by federal tax data institutions, this Article also considers whether the possible justifications for colorblind tax data should override principles of equality and transparency. It argues they should not.

This Article concludes by proposing a variety of alternatives to the current colorblind tax data regime that do not require adding questions about race or ethnicity to Form 1040.

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"Colorblind tax data obscure racial inequality and prevent its remedy."

According to the American Community Survey, Asian Americans report the highest household income, approximately $87,000 per year vs. $66,000 for "white" households.

Specifically, that includes Americans from India, Taiwan, the Philippines, China, Japan, Pakistan, Indonesia, South Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos, in that order.

I'm wondering if the authors of this paper see those groups as the problem, and what the "remediation" to inequality would look like, targeting those specific groups.

Posted by: MM Classic | Sep 28, 2020 1:58:59 PM

I have some old poll tax receipts from somewhere in the south that include a line to identify the taxpayers race. It makes me cringe to think that there are those out there who want to return to that.

Posted by: Matthew | Sep 23, 2020 12:55:17 PM