Tax & Accounting Blog

Sales Tax and Social Justice

Blog, Indirect Tax, ONESOURCE, Sales and Use Tax May 4, 2016

The following was written by Stefan Heller and posted on his behalf.


Sale and use tax policy is not often at the top of the list of interesting and provocative news stories. However, tax policy can act as a lever to affect broader social policy, or at least to bring much needed focus to important and controversial issues faced by local governments. When that happens, tax policy can take center stage in critical debates.

An example of the juxtaposition of mundane tax policy and profound societal issues played out recently in the Missouri Senate, where Democratic Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal filibustered a bill increasing sales taxes slated to fund law enforcement by reading from The 50th Law, a book co-authored by 50 Cent and Robert Greene. The 50th Law makes use of stories from 50 Cent’s rise to stardom, citing the rapper’s fearless philosophy as the key to his ascent.

Chappelle-Nadal has been an outspoken critic of the government response to protests in Ferguson, Missouri following the killing of Michael Brown, and has proposed bills governing the use of force by police officers. Her work to block the tax bill sought to eliminate a funding mechanism for law enforcement until issues of race and policing in the communities she represents are addressed.

Here the comparatively dry realm of tax policy has collided with the charged fight to further social justice, making the subject of sales tax deserving of closer focus.