Michelle Singletary reviews Dorothy Brown's new book, The Whiteness of Wealth: How the Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans — And How We Can Fix It (2021), in the Washington Post:
Dorothy Brown thought tax law was colorblind.
But decades of research proved otherwise. Now a professor of law at Emory University, Brown has written a book laying out how racism is built into the U.S. tax system, contributing to the wealth gap for Black people.
“What people tend to say is, ‘Well, the tax laws can’t discriminate, because there’s nothing in the tax law that says Blacks pay more, Whites pay less.’ And that’s true,” Brown said in an interview.
But if you look at how certain provisions got into the tax code, there’s a racialized history that has generally favored White Americans.
“Our tax laws were designed with White Americans in mind,” she writes. “That’s why no solution proposed by either the right or left — not better jobs, not increased homeownership, and not more access to higher education — will be effective without significant and fundamental tax reform.”
In the past, I’ve selected a personal-finance book each month for the Color of Money Book Club. Last year, as the pandemic escalated, I suspended the club to focus on providing much-needed information about stimulus payments and the glitches in getting the money to millions of Americans. Although I won’t be resuming a monthly book-club selection, I’ll still, on occasion, review books related to consumer finance.
In my first selection for this year, I’m recommending Brown’s book, The Whiteness of Wealth: How the Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans — and How We Can Fix It. ...
This book packs a powerful punch of historical context, concluding with bold recommendations that would face incredible opposition.
But as the saying goes, go big or go home.