Code Switch Program

The Code Switch podcast episode I chose to listen to today was titled ‘WTF Does Race Have to Do with Taxes?’ hosted by Lori Lizarraga and Gene Demby. At first, I was skeptical about the connection being made between race discrimination and taxes, specifically tax audits and how the IRS decides whom to audit. However, Demby brought up a good point. He mentioned that the IRS doesn’t receive any racial information about the individuals they are investigating; they only have access to their names and zip codes. It was at this point that lawyer and professor Dorothy A. Brown joined the discussion and highlighted how zip codes can be a hint to a person’s race due to housing segregation, an extensive issue.

She explained that housing segregation is a real and ongoing problem. Someone living in a zip code in the Bronx is more likely to be a person of color than someone with a Manhattan zip code. This revelation shed light on the fact that the IRS appeared to be using zip codes from certain areas to target people of color, specifically Black individuals, for tax audits.

As the podcast continued, they explored various issues related to Black individuals and taxes. Just by listening to this episode, my perspective on this topic was greatly enriched. As a white girl living in Brooklyn, NY, I grew up with my parents paying taxes, and it seemed normal to me. I never considered that there might be an issue with it beyond the occasional frustration with tax fees. However, now that it has been brought to my attention, I realize that this is a problem that should not be happening routinely. The color of someone’s skin should not be a determining factor in whether they are subjected to a tax audit.

I believe both hosts articulated their points well during the discussion, and they brought in an amazing guest who could provide firsthand experience of this issue. As a future lawyer, I would love to contribute to addressing this problem and helping people who have been unfairly targeted for tax audits solely based on their race, rather than on their wealth or financial activities.

One thought on “Code Switch Program

  1. I agree that it can be very eye opening to see that what you find normal or “the average day”, can be completely different for other people. It’s good to keep an open mind like that because often times, when one maintains a closed eye, they essentially trap themselves in their own little world.

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