Taxes are one of the biggest ways that wealth in this country is redistributed — often aggressively redistributed from poor, working-class, and middle-class communities to the already wealthy as exemplified in the most recent Republican tax bill. As reported in the New York Times, by 2027, people getting $40,000 to $50,000 a year pay a combined $5.3 billion more in taxes, while those earning $1 million or more (many of whom are people and families of those within Resource Generation’s community and networks) would get a $5.8 billion cut, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office.
As young people with wealth who will financially benefit from this bill if passed, we have a critical role in pushing back against narratives and policies that exacerbate the U.S.’s pattern of exacting class warfare against poor and working-class people to further consolidate wealth in the hands of a few.
Politicians hear all the time from rich folks who use their influence to get special tax breaks — and they do it because they know that lobbying the government literally pays off. But those same politicians don’t often hear from wealthy folks who understand that shared wealth becomes shared public resources, like good schools, roads, and healthy people, something that poor and working-class communities know to be true.
I’m a Resource Generation member and have access to wealth through my family. I’m also the child of public school teachers and a proud product of public education. I learned early on that taxes are important because they are music classes, bunsen burners, field trips to the science museum, and the guidance counselor who helped me apply for college. But the way our tax system works also reinforces inequality. Because of access to wealth through my family, my mother was able to move me to a better school system when I was a teenager — and was able to pay the higher taxes that funded those schools. That’s not possible for many families struggling just to get by, and we can’t fix it without changing the way wealth gets distributed at scale.
If we, as young people with wealth, are truly committed to the equitable distribution of wealth, land, and power, and believe in the necessity and urgency of erasing the racial wealth gap, we cannot ignore tax policy. Nor can we ignore how tax policy has been, and continues to be, racist, classist, sexist, imperialist, and ableist. It is an imperfect system and one that we cannot ignore.
We cannot ignore how we benefit regardless of the politics, and how much poor and working-class communities depend on food assistance, Medicaid, and other crucial supports to make ends meet. And while we stand for redistribution of wealth through the tax system, we must also support local organizing that ensures resources are directed toward communities that have been, and are currently, robbed, killed, and marginalized by white supremacist capitalism. In their Economic Justice platform, the Movement for Black Lives calls for changing the tax rules to “ensure a radical and sustainable redistribution of wealth” which requires that the rich pay their fair share and poor communities and communities of color no longer have to bear the majority of the load for services that benefit everyone.
I’ll be the first person to tell you that our tax system’s already broken and that it favors the rich. But this scam of a bill currently working its way through Congress will make economic inequality exponentially worse by cutting taxes on profitable corporations, forcing poor, working-class, and middle-class families to pay way more, and gutting access to healthcare for millions.
Please take 15 minutes out of your day today to stand with working-class and poor communities against this repugnant and violent bill. Here’s how:
- Call your elected officials and express your disapproval of the tax bill. The Capitol switchboard is at (202) 224-3121, and you can dial through to be connected to your senator.
- If they don’t pick up and the mailbox is full, look up your elected officials’ websites and try all of their district offices until you get through. If you have to call a couple of times to get through, that’s a good thing! It means lots of people are calling in also.
- The key points are that this tax bill will force families already struggling to get by to pay more, let profitable corporations off the hook for contributing to widely-shared prosperity, and leave millions of Americans uninsured.
- Talk with friends and family in key states that need to vote against the bill (Alaska, Arizona, Tennessee, Indiana, Maine, Kansas, Montana, or Oklahoma) to take action. Call them and talk about the impact that this tax bill will have on all of us while benefiting the wealthy and ask them to call their Senators (and send them this blog post!)
- Write an op-ed or Letter to the Editor and submit it to your local paper. Connecting your personal wealth story to the larger issues at play can be very powerful. Given the influence of wealthy political donors on our political process, our voices are more important than ever.
- Learn what tax breaks you benefit from as a young person with access to wealth either through earning a high income or being a current or future inheritor.
- Do you know how you might personally benefit from tax breaks only available to the wealthy? Investigate your financial situation to figure it out. For example, many families with access to wealth that also own homes are able to take advantage of the mortgage interest deduction, which helps to drive the racial wealth gap.
- Commit to moving that same amount of money to economic and racial justice organizations led by poor, working-class, and communities of color.
Resource Generation has a ton of resources for a deeper dive into tax justice, too. Use one of the resources below to begin a conversation in your chapter or family/friend circles to move to action:
- Intro to Why Taxes Matter
- RG’s Tax Justice Platform
- Tax Justice Vocab List
- (Definitions of “Tax Bracket,” “Marginal Tax Rate,” “Progressive Taxes,” “Regressive Taxes,” “Capital Gains Taxes,” and more)
- Tax Day Action Political Education Workshop (2017)
- A full 2-hour workshop on how our current tax system is rigged in favor of the wealthy and how young people with wealth fighting for tax justice can dismantle our current extractive economy and replace it with a regenerative/renewable economy. Includes activities about history of taxes, grounding in our personal stories, understanding this political moment, and action planning. Lots of resources, articles, and statistics links inside. Many options to pull from depending on the size, interest, and capacity of your group. (7 pages)
- Making Money Make Change Tax Justice Workshop Version 2 Agenda (2015)
- Tax Day Pie Action Toolkit (2012)
Samantha Waxman is a Resource Generation member. She is a chapter leader of RG D.C. and a member of RG’s National Campaign Team.
Resource Generation is the only organization in the U.S. organizing young people with wealth toward the equitable distribution of wealth, land, and power. As a result of becoming a member of Resource Generation, our members end up giving away 16 times more money to economic and racial justice organizations than they did before. Learn more and support our work by becoming a member here.