At Emory University School of Law, the first day of the "Critical Perspectives on Tax Policy" conference is well under way. They program began with a welcome from Dean Robert Schapiro and an introduction by Professor Dorothy Brown. Professor Brown explained the origins of the conference in conversations with national tax colleagues about a desire to "put the 'critical' back in critical tax theory."
Here's how Tony Infanti (Pitt) and I described the field in Critical Tax Theory: An Introduction.
Tax law is political. That is a fundamental assumption of critical tax theory....[A]ll critical tax scholarship shares one or more of the following goals: (1) to uncover bias in the tax laws; (2) to explore and expose how the tax laws both reflect and construct social meaning; and (3) to educate non-tax scholars and lawyers about the interconnectedness of taxation, social justice, and progressive political movements. Critical tax scholars employ a variety of methods to achieve these goals. Among other methods, the contributions to this book demonstrate how critical tax scholars bring “outsider” perspectives to the study of tax law; use historical material, contemporary case studies, and personal or fictional narratives to illustrate the practical impact of the tax laws on individuals and groups; interpret social science and economic data to show how the tax laws impact groups differently; and explore the interconnectedness of tax laws with economic forces such as the labor market (especially as it impacts women) and international financial and political development.
During the first panel this morning, John C. Scott (Public Policy, UNC) presented his work on "The Problem of Private Pensions: Risk, Institutions, and Politics in the Hidden Welfare State." Reginald Mombrum (NCCU) spoke on "Shifting the Paradigm by Bringing Tax Arbitrage to the Lower Income Separated Family: Why Should the Middle to Upper Class Family Have All the Fun?" I shared a few thoughts on "Wealth, Inequality and Democracy."
In the morning's second panel. Lynn Lu (NYU) workshopped her paper, "Beyond Watchdogs, Whistleblowers, and Scapegoats: Pushing the Limits of Social Justice Reform through Tax Exemption for Public Charities." Carolyn Jones (Iowa) just began her talk by saying, "This is a low-tech presentation on sin." The formal title of her presentation is "Taxation as a Means of Reaching the Kingdom of God." Up next will be Andre Smith (Widener) talking about "Taxes and the Demise of White Supremacy in the United States."
Lots more to follow!