Reparations has been discussed in political circles for a while now. So far no one has explained how to make reparations to families of slaves, but not to the families whose loved ones died freeing the slaves. Do people who weren’t here before 1860 have to pay reparations? Do people whose ancestors were indentured servants get reparations too? There are an awful lot of unanswered questions.
On April 5th, The New York Sun posted a very interesting article on reparations.
The article poses an interesting question:
Could a racial priority for getting a Covid-19 vaccine turn out to be just the first stop on the way to race-based tax rates?
A tax bill that varies depending on the taxpayer’s race might strike readers as some law professor’s remote fantasy, far from anything that might become reality.
Things are developing more quickly on this front, though, than is widely recognized.
Just this month, the governor of Vermont, Phil Scott, a Republican, attracted attention when he announced, “If you or anyone in your household identifies as Black, Indigenous, or a person of color (BIPOC), including anyone with Abenaki or other First Nations heritage, all household members who are 16 years or older can sign up to get a vaccine!”
A Reason article notes that in December 2020, while Republican Donald Trump was still president, the federal Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it would prioritize Black, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian veterans in vaccine distribution. Reason cites the Cato Institute’s Walter Olson as describing these schemes as unconstitutional, a violation of the “equal protection” clause of the 14th Amendment.
The article reports:
“Prediction: By tax year 2024, Americans will be asked to indicate their race on the Form 1040,” tweeted Scott Greenberg, a former analyst at the Tax Foundation who now writes about tax policy in a Substack newsletter called “No Withholding.”
Greenberg was reacting to a tax-policy reporter for the Wall Street Journal, Richard Rubin, who had flagged the news that the Biden administration had put the Treasury department’s top tax-policy official on an “equitable data working group.”
According to the Biden executive order, “Many Federal datasets are not disaggregated by race, ethnicity, gender, disability, income, veteran status, or other key demographic variables. This lack of data has cascading effects and impedes efforts to measure and advance equity. A first step to promoting equity in Government action is to gather the data necessary to inform that effort.”
The Census provides plenty of race-based income and poverty data, but the IRS has not done so. That surprises even some savvy observers. Kai Ryssdal, of the public radio show “Marketplace,” devoted a recent segment to an interview with Dorothy Brown. A law professor at Emory, Ms. Brown is the author of “The Whiteness of Wealth: How the Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans — And How We Can Fix It.”
Isn’t it interesting that the same Democrat party that fought so hard against civil rights legislation is still working hard to divide Americans by race. \
The article concludes:
The tax code already rewards or punishes all sorts of behaviors — home-ownership, say, or marriage and child-rearing, retirement saving, even electric-vehicle purchasing. In that context, a reparations credit seems less exceptional than it otherwise might.
There are plenty of potential downsides other than the constitutional obstacles. Yet those taxpayers who think Form 1040 is already complex enough, thank you, without adding race to the mix might want to get their arguments in order lest they find themselves, in some future tax season, in the IRS equivalent of the back of the vaccine line.
Let’s hope that if reparations through the IRS ever takes place, the Supreme Court shoots it down immediately.