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February 04, 2021 BLACK HISTORY MONTH

#BlackTaxpayersMatter: Intersection of Race, Tax Systems, Laws and Enforcement

The United States exhibits wider disparities of wealth than any other major developed nation. Over the past five decades, wealth has increasingly concentrated among the highest-income households. These households are disproportionately white and male. In 2018, three white men held aggregate wealth greater than the aggregate wealth of one-half of all Americans. The median white household has 41 times more wealth than the median Black household and 22 times more wealth than the median Latinx household. On average women earn less than men in all industries. At the intersection of race and gender the gaps are even more shocking. Women of color are disproportionately poor, suffering poverty rates of 21.4% Black women, 18.7% Latinas, and 22.8% Native American women, as compared to 7% for white men. Moreover, education, work, and marriage and other attributes that fall under the rubric of “personal responsibility” do not remedy these disparities. White heads of household without a high school education have on average more wealth than college educated Black heads of households. White households with a single white parent have more than twice the net worth of two parent Black households. White households with an unemployed head have a higher net worth than Black households with a head who is working full time. 

In short, something must be done to reverse these racist trends. Tax and spending systems are the most profound fiscal tools under the government’s control. Many aspects of tax systems worsen inequality, especially the racial wealth gap. Three nationally recognized expert panelists will provide a deep dive into institutional racism in tax systems. The panel begins with a broad overview focusing on racism in international and domestic tax systems targeting Black and Latinx taxpayers. The focus then narrows further looking at the disparate impact of taxpayer audits on communities of color. Finally, panelists suggest concrete strategies to start to remedy these wrongs.


  • Donnie Charleston, Director, Public Policy & Advocacy, E Pluribus Unum
  • Steven Dean, Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School
  • Francine J. Lipman, William S. Boyd Professor of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas William S. Boyd School of Law


Co-Sponsors: ABA Center for Human Rights, ABA Center for Public Interest Law, ABA Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights & Responsibilities, ABA Commission on Homelessness & Poverty, ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, ABA Death Penalty Representation Project, ABA Diversity and Inclusion Center, ABA Law Student DivisionABA Section of State and Local Government Law, ABA Section of TaxationABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section, ABA Young Lawyers Division, American Bar FoundationAmerican Tax Policy Institute, CPA Academy, National Tax Association


Presentations: Donnie CharlestonSteven DeanFrancine J. Lipman

Transcript: #BlackTaxpayersMatter: Intersection of Race, Tax Systems, Laws and Enforcement

U.S. Tax Systems Need Anti-Racist Restructuring

How Racial Diversity Shaped U.S. International Tax Policy

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