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

By Sari Bilick and Amber Akemi Piatt

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

While the federal tax deadline has been moved to May 17th this year, we still feel called to mark April 15th with reflections on how critical our tax structure is to building a healthy society. As we continue to protect each other through the COVID-19 pandemic and get to know the new federal administration, we have the opportunity to make long-overdue structural changes to improve community health, address historical and ongoing oppression, and promote equitable COVID-19 recovery.

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 February, we released a cross-sector federal policy platform with demands gathered from grassroots groups, social justice movements, community organizers, and public health organizations across the country to advance racial justice and health equity. These demands call on the Biden-Harris Administration to enact bold, immediate, and transformative policies that address the long-standing health crises impacting our communities, including severe economic inequality, housing insecurity, systems of state violence, and the gutting of public health infrastructure.

The harsh reality is that not all communities experience these issues equally. Structural and systemic racism guarantees that people of color — especially Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people — are most harmed by these overlapping crises. It is an unfair burden to bear, yet we remain deeply inspired and guided by the leadership of those who know these injustices most directly and intimately. Leaders like Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II with the Poor People’s Campaign continue to give voice to the deliberate choices our government officials make that promote, or diminish, community health. He, like so many others, reminds us that we have abundant resources and could redesign our social, political, and economic relationships and systems to foster health.

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.

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

Resources and actions to shift the narrative on taxes and health

Sari Bilick leads the organizing and advocacy work at HIP and coordinates Public Health Awakened, a network of public health professionals organizing to support social justice movements and resist attacks on our communities. She is passionate about mobilizing people around the issues most important to them and bringing a social justice and equity lens into all spaces.

Amber Akemi Piatt leads HIP’s Health Instead of Punishment Program. Originally trained in clinical psychology, violence prevention, and public health, she now works with grassroots groups and coalitions on successful campaigns to curb United States militarism, incarceration, and police violence. Her commitment to taking action in solidarity with those who have been most harmed by carceral systems guides her work.

📌 Did you know? Human Impact Partners provides health equity capacity building to public health organizations. Contact us to learn more about our offerings at info[at]humanimpact.org.

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