Tax Day: What’s Health Equity Got to Do With It?

Community members at a protest in Oakland, CA. Photo by @ryansincamera

Our taxes can be an important component in that effort: by pooling our resources together for collective good, we can invest in health-promoting policies, and shift our resources away from systems that perpetuate harm and deepen inequities.

In Biden’s first 100 days in office, we have seen some meaningful shifts — but we know this is just a start. It’s more important than ever that we keep organizing and advocating for the large scale change our communities deserve. That means reimagining and transforming all of our systems — including our tax systems — to build toward a vision of collective care and community power, and redistribute wealth in our communities.

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II

At its best, budget and policy change is accessible to everyday people looking to improve conditions where they live, work, and play.

That’s why we were so excited when many of our partners launched defundpolice.org, “a one-stop-shop information source for campaigns to defund police” this year. Though invest/divest campaigns are not new or even unique to policing, the widespread calls to defund the police have cracked open new appetites for information and opportunities for material gains. Essentially, an invest/divest campaign seeks to shift resources from one agency, program, or system to another. One of the trickier parts of this type of approach is estimating actual costs and savings, which is why the People’s Budget Calculator caught our attention. It puts the user in the driver’s seat of designing a budget proposal rooted in real data, and opens up new possibilities for advocates across the country.

How would you reallocate funding in your jurisdiction to promote health equity?

Simply put, taxes are a way to do together what we cannot do alone. Taxes enable us to build public transportation infrastructure. To prevent and fight wildfires. To educate our kids and keep libraries open. We can imagine and build towards a society where our taxes also assure living wages for all, guarantee a roof over our families’ heads, and bolster community-led, non-punitive emergency response systems. As we pay our taxes this year, let’s commit ourselves to the work needed to co-create the healthy, equitable future our loved ones deserve.

Resources and actions to shift the narrative on taxes and health

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Human Impact Partners

Human Impact Partners

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Bringing the power of public health to campaigns and movements for a just society