Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad believed that Black people in America should not pay federal taxes. And there were solid reasons why.
According to one of the points in the original Muslim Program in the Muhammad Speaks Newspaper, the Nation of Islam wanted “the government of the United States to exempt our people from ALL taxation as long as we are deprived of equal justice under the laws of the land.”
In terms of taxes, Black people in the U.S. have a major challenge in accumulating wealth due to what has been dubbed the “Black tax.”
“The term ‘Black tax‘ is commonly used in South Africa, where it refers to the financial support that Black professionals are expected to give their extended families. In the U.S., it also describes the racial dimensions that perpetuate a cycle of inequality such as lower pay and a lower standard of education, The Motley Fool reported.
The Black tax is paid by Black people in several ways. Institute of Policy Studies found that 37 percent of Black families have zero or negative wealth, compared to just 15.5 percent of white families. This means that the debts of Black people are equal to or greater than their assets.
The Black tax is paid for in various ways. Black children, for one, often attend schools with less qualified and lower-paid teachers. This results in lower-quality education, which can stunt employment opportunities.
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The book “The Black Tax: The Cost of Being Black in America” by Shawn D Rochester further examines how the Black tax affects nearly aspect of Black life in the U.S. Rochester points out how the Black tax creates an almost impossible financial burden on Black American households that dramatically reduces their ability to leave a substantial legacy for future generations.
Knowing this, Muhammad felt Black people should not pay federal tax. There are other reasons as well.
Dorothy A. Brown, a law professor at Emory University, examined racial discrimination in the U.S. tax code for years. The result was the book “The Whiteness of Wealth: How the Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans — and How We Can Fix It.” The book delves into her resurrection and finds how racism is embedded in the federal tax system.
Brown pointed out that among the ways the tax code assists white households in accumulating wealth more than Black households is its treatment of joint tax returns for married couples. Married couples in which a person works benefit more from the tax code, and white families are more apt to be one-income households. Married households where both spouses bring in similar incomes can’t reap the rewards of this tax provision. Even in high-income households, Black couples tend to have both partners working, The Center for Public Integrity reported.
Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam, addresses the annual convention at Chicago Coliseum, Feb. 28, 1966, flanked by bodyguards. (AP) / IRS headquarters, Washington, D.C., April 13, 2014. (AP/J. David Ake, File)