Exploding Wealth Inequalities: Does Tax Policy Promote Social Justice or Social Injustice?

Phyllis C. Taite, Florida A&M University College of Law


In reviewing tax policy as a whole, our current system is grossly imbalanced. Although the structure of the U.S. taxing system is labeled as a progressive system, the reality is that our system, in operation, is a regressive taxing system. The benefits and treasures of tax policies flow to those of greater wealth while those with less wealth squarely shoulder the burdens of raising revenue. Tax policies that have shaped the tax structure and economic climate overwhelmingly favor the wealthy, propertied taxpayers. These tax policies work in concert to contribute to the wealth and income inequality that disadvantage the poor and middle class in favor of the wealthy. While there is current and past discourse on wealth and income inequality, and impact of the same, as well as discussions of multiple causes of wealth and income inequality, there is little discussion on how various tax policies work together as a common force to perpetuate income and economic inequality.

This Essay will briefly discuss how some tax policies work in concert to systematically shift wealth to the wealthiest taxpayers. This social arrangement is counter to what many would perceive as social justice. Social justice requires that those who are of greater means and receive greater benefits of tax policy should be responsible for a greater weight of the tax burdens. This Essay will focus on tax preferences and estate tax policy, as well as identify inequities and propose solutions to reform the taxing system into a more progressive system. By making adjustments to current policies, the tax code can be used to reduce the massive wealth and income disparity that currently exists.