New Roosevelt Institute report highlights the harmful racial impacts of the GOP Tax Law

Latest Analysis From Leading Progressive Think Tank Argues Tax Overhaul ‘Preys Upon People of Color’

NEW YORK, NY — Earlier today, the Roosevelt Institute released its latest issue brief: “Hidden Rules of Race Are Embedded in the New Tax Law“. The report, co-authored by Roosevelt Fellows Darrick Hamilton and Michael Linden, examines the specific ways that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will damage the economy as a whole and for communities of color in particular.

The report finds that the tax law will be harmful to communities of color by perpetuating long-standing racial disparities in both wealth and income and by undermining the funding sources for the public sector, which disproportionately employs African American workers. It also explains how the elimination of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction will pressure states and localities to rely more on fees and fines as a source of income, which amounts to a regressive tax and will inevitably extend the reach of today’s broken criminal justice system.

After analyzing the new tax law, the report concludes by outlining what a more inclusive tax policy would look like. This vision includes a federal tax code that forces corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share, enacts far more robust estate taxes to help address the racial wealth gap, seeks ways to help those born without wealth to build it, and provides greater support for the employment of people of color.

“The new tax law is a giant leap in the wrong direction,” said Darrick Hamilton, co-author of the report, Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, and director of the doctoral program in public and urban policy at The New School. “Especially coming after nearly a decade of aggressive austerity, and following four decades in which all of the economic gains from productivity increases have gone to the elite, a tax code that continues to subsidize a persistent and pernicious racial wealth gap amounts to a front assault on communities of color. It is as though this overhaul were designed to hone in on the worst dynamics of our economy for black and brown families and make them even worse. Any policymaker that is serious about the economic uplift of communities of color will fight to repeal this tax law and enact something far more progressive.”

“Our economy was already rigged for the wealthy and powerful, and the new tax law has poured fuel on that fire,” said Michael Linden, co-author of the report and a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. “We know that most Americans will be disadvantaged by the tax law, but communities of color will really bear the brunt. The tax code has the potential to be a constructive and powerful force to bring about a stronger, more inclusive economy. Sadly, the majority in Congress decided to use that tool instead to entrench those at the top while erecting new barriers to opportunity in specific communities. It is critical that we all understand the hidden ways in which public policies, like this new tax law, work to enhance existing inequities and protect a broken economy.”

In January, Roosevelt Forward issued an open letter calling on policymakers to repeal the Republican tax law and outlining what a better tax code would entail. Last year, the Roosevelt Institute released the book The Hidden Rules of Race: Barriers to an Inclusive Economy, which explores the many ways the economy is designed to harm and exclude the African American community. During the debate over the tax law, Linden emerged as a leading critic of the proposed overhaul and has been featured in news coverage of the law in outlets including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Atlantic. Hamilton is a nationally known expert on how the U.S. economy is stratified by race and gender. He recently appeared at a nationally broadcast town hall, led by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), to discuss economic inequality and his research on the proposed federal job guarantee that has been covered in outlets including The Washington Post, Vox, and The Intercept.

About the Roosevelt Institute

Until the rules work for every American, they’re not working. The Roosevelt Institute asks: what does a better society look like? Armed with a bold vision for the future, we push the economic and social debate forward. We believe that those at the top hold too much power and wealth, and that our economy will be stronger when that changes. Ultimately, we want our work to move the country toward a new economic and political system: one built by many for the good of all.

It takes all of us to rewrite the rules. From emerging leaders to Nobel laureate economists, we’ve built a network of thousands. At Roosevelt, we make influencers more thoughtful and thinkers more influential. We also celebrate –and are inspired by– those whose work embodies the values of both Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and carries their vision forward today.