The Federal Income Tax: Racially Blind but Not Racially Neutral
Friday, February 24, 2023, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (Eastern Time)

Skadden Conference Room 11-AB
1440 New York Ave. NW, Washington DC


8:00 – 8:45 a.m.

Registration and Breakfast

8:45 – 9:00 a.m.

Introduction and Opening Remarks

Welcome from Alice G. Abreu, Honorable Nelson A. Diaz Professor of Law and Director, Center for Tax Law and Public Policy, Temple University Beasley School of Law

9:00 – 10:15 a.m.

Panel I: Race, History, Taxation and Behavior

Race and taxation have always been intertwined in the United States. Tax law is deeply implicated in slavery, as colonies and then states sought to impose taxes on both land and the human beings who were treated as property. The United States Constitution famously counted enslaved persons as three-fifths of the white persons in the jurisdiction, and did not count “Indians” at all, for purposes of determining political representation. How, over time, did how subordinated racial groups, particularly African Americans, Native Americans, and others, rely on tax rhetoric and reality, including their roles as taxpayers, to demand greater political and social rights? In what way has the tax system continued to prop up the systematic exclusion of Blacks and other groups from ownership of homes and other property? What are the racial and gendered dimensions of choices taxpayers have made over time, including choices about the provision of services to family members? Who benefits from the tax-free treatment of imputed income? Given the tax system’s role in racial subordination, is there a way that the tax laws might be deployed to remedy race-based harms of enslavement, forced dispossession, centuries of race-based discrimination, or raced and gendered patterns of behavior?

Moderator: Alice M. Thomas, Associate Professor of Law, Howard University School of Law and Loretta Argrett Fellow, Tax Section, American Bar Association


  • Jeremy Bearer-Friend, Associate Professor of Law, George Washington University Law School, Poll Taxes, Revisited | Abstract
  • Nyamagaga Gondwe, Assistant Professor of Tax Law, University of Wisconsin Law School, Economic Precarity and Tax Invisibility of Uncompensated Kin-Group Service Providers | Abstract
  • Anthony C. Infanti, Christopher C. Walthour, Sr. Professor of Law, University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Taxation and Slavery in Colonial America: The Case for Reparations | Abstract
  • Richard Winchester, Associate Professor of Law, Seton Hall University School of Law, Pontchartrain Park Homes v. Commissioner: A Simple Case Complicated by Race | Abstract

10:15 – 10:30 a.m.

Refreshment Break

10:30 – 11:45 a.m.

Panel II: Tax Systems and Privileged Choices

A tax system’s choices about what to tax and what to exempt from taxation both reflects and creates certain values, both in terms of domestic and international policy. For example, amounts earned from employment are treated as income, but the value of self-rendered services or services provided to members of one’s immediate family are not. Organizations that discriminate against African-Americans are not entitled to 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, but the Fourteenth Amendment does, to a certain degree, permit race-conscious affirmative policies in higher education and elsewhere. The tax code permits deductions for transfers to charities, but only for taxpayers who itemize, thus making it more “expensive” for non-itemizers to give. Certain foreign countries are targeted for sanctions more readily than others. In the absence of official IRS collection of tax data by race in domestic and international contexts, what are the race, gender, and other identity characteristics of those who make itemizable vs. non-itemizable charitable gifts, as well as the organizations they support? How does the racial bias reflected in the tax law manifest itself in the international context? How might tax exempt organizations be impacted by the cases coming before the Supreme Court involving race-consciousness in higher education?

Moderator: Bridget J. Crawford, University Distinguished Professor, Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University


  • David A. Brennen, Frost, Brown & Todd Professor of Law, University of Kentucky Rosenberg School of Law, Race Conscious Affirmative Action by Tax Exempt 501(c)(3) Schools and Colleges After Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and UNC | Abstract
  • Samuel D. Brunson, Georgia Reithal Professor of Law, Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Black Charity Without Subsidy | Abstract
  • Steven A. Dean, Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School, and Attiya Waris, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Nairobi (Nairobi, Kenya), 10 More Truths about International Taxation | Abstract
  • Darryll K. Jones, Professor of Law, Florida A&M University College of Law, Fundamental and Applied Research Regarding Tax Exemption for Hate Groups | Abstract

11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Lunch and Welcome Remarks
Jessica Hough, Partner, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP and Head of the Firm’s Washington, DC, Office

We have placed at the center of each table small cards with discussion questions that participants are warmly invited to take up in informal small group discussion over lunch. Otherwise, feel free to use the remaining time as you see fit.

1:00 – 2:15 p.m.

Panel III: Systemic Inequalities Undergirding Facially Neutral Tax Laws

The Internal Revenue Code does not provide that taxpayers are subject to different rules because of the color of their skin, and yet the tax laws have undeniable racialized impacts. Certain educational tax benefits, for example, disproportionately benefit white families. Laws intended to encourage economic investment in financially distressed communities have led to luxury housing and student housing in some places. What type of evidence will be sufficient to persuade the general public of the racialized impacts of seemingly neutral tax laws? How is it possible to use the tax system, as well as tax rhetoric, to move toward a society that is more racially equitable? How can tax policy, together with other law reform, be harnessed to address remedy race-based income and wealth inequalities?

Moderator: Anthony C. Infanti, Christopher C. Walthour, Sr. Professor of Law, University of Pittsburgh School of Law


  • Victoria J. Haneman, Frank J. Kellegher Professor of Trusts & Estates, Creighton University School of Law, Systemic Racism and 529 Plans | Abstract
  • Tracy A. Kaye, Seton Hall University School of Law, and Andrew J. Greenlee, Associate Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Opportunity Zones and Race | Abstract
  • Palma J. Strand, Professor, Professor of Law at Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, Creighton University Graduate School and Nicholas A. Mirkay, Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, University of Hawai’i William S. Richardson School of Law, Creating a “Pro-Tax” Story for Racial Equity: Cross-Racial Interest Convergence, Human Dignity, and Government’s Duty of Care | Abstract
  • Phyllis Taite, Professor of Law, Oklahoma City University School of Law, Exploding Economic Inequality: Tax Policy as the Key to Address Wealth Inequality | Abstract

2:15 – 2:30 p.m.

Refreshment Break

2:30 – 3:55 p.m.

Panel IV: Discrimination Through Non-Discrimination

By declining to collect data based on race, the Internal Revenue Service props up the myth that the tax laws are neutral in application. After all, in the absence of official data about the race, critics easily dismiss the work of scholars who develop that information through the triangulation of other sources. What is at stake in the IRS’s failure to gather race-based data? How might we understand small businesses, taxpayers of all income levels, or even the IRS itself differently, in light of uncontested race-based data? Are the insights that can be gained from race-based tax data outweighed by potential “losses” to public confidence in the government generally or the tax system in particular? Who benefits and who is disadvantaged in the absence of a robust analysis of the intersection of race and taxation? What are the roadblocks to changes in the status quo?

Moderator: Philip Hackney, Associate Professor of Law, University of Pittsburgh School of Law


  • Leslie M. Book, Professor of Law, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, How the IRS Failure To Embrace Its Role As A Social Benefits Agency Exacerbates Racial Injustice | Abstract
  • Emily Satterthwaite, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, Prior Work and Future Directions on Choice of Entity and Race | Abstract
  • Goldburn P. Maynard Jr., Assistant Professor, Department of Business Law & Ethics, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Oligarchy & Taxation (written with David Gamage, Professor of Law and Whistler Faculty Fellow, Indiana Bloomington Maurer School of Law) | Abstract

3:45 p.m.

Program Concludes – Thank you to our sponsors, speakers, and participants


Symposium Sponsors

Support for this program is provided by



ABA Tax Section





Pace University

Temple University




Pittsburgh Tax Review