Naomi Fowler ■ Tax as a tool for racial justice: new report launched


The etymology of tax is “to fix”, and so…we ask ourselves “how
can tax help address racial wealth inequality
[and] repair the harms of structural racism that are embedded into our economic system?”

~ Decolonising Economics, Tax as a Tool for Racial Justice report

These are crucial questions. And it’s taken many of us involved in movements to tackle the world’s inequalities far too long to engage with them.

In partnership with our sister organisation Tax Justice UK, we at the Tax Justice Network collaborated with Guppi Bola of Decolonising Economics who has written a report which is the first of its kind in the UK: “Tax as a Tool for Racial Justice”. Decolonising Economics works to build a solidarity economy rooted in racial justice principles and you can read more about the organisation and its work here.

As it begins, the report “is intended to be a framework for future research, organising and campaigns for racial justice.”

To discuss the report, first presented by Guppi Bola, and next steps for campaigners and researchers, we brought together a panel of experts: Keston K. Perry Assistant Professor of Africana Studies, Williams College, Stephanie Brobbey Founder and CEO of the Good Ancestor Movement and Priya Lukka Economist in International Development. You can watch the launch of the report here:

You can also listen to Guppi Bola of Decolonising Economics speaking with Naomi Fowler on the Tax Justice Network podcast the Taxcast in more depth about the report here:

~ Tax and Racial Justice, Taxcast, September 2022

While in Britain there’s a big knowledge and research gap (as is unfortunately the case in many countries), in the United States there’s been some great work on tax histories and tax justice principles as they apply to racial justice, notably the work of the excellent Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and Professor Dorothy Brown’s The Whiteness of Wealth: how the US tax system impoverishes black Americans – and how we can fix it’, plus so much more.

You can hear Professor Brown’s keynote speech here at the Tax Justice Network 2021 conference. You can also hear her in conversation on our podcast the Taxcast, where she explains how the doors weren’t open to her work in this area: “Let’s be clear – when I started writing about race and tax, I was not – my scholarship nor I were welcomed by the white male law professor tax gatekeepers.

Here’s a great twitter thread from Brakeyshia R. Samms listing US research:

Below is a list of resources which may also be of interest, some of which were shared during the launch. Please do add your suggestions in the comments section, we’ll be happy to have them.

Firstly we’re sharing links to the Taxcast, some of our monthly podcast editions which explore this area. All previous episodes are available here. (You can also find podcasts on that site in Spanish – Justicia ImPositiva, French – Impôts et Justice Sociale, Portuguese – É Da Sua Conta, and Arabic – الجباية ببساطة)

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