Bobby L. Dexter

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Although acknowledging that various provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 appear responsive to normative arguments presented in tax literature, this article posits that, true to its core intent, the law aggressively advanced the persistent effort to shift the tax burden away from the nation’s wealthiest citizens to the great bulk of taxpayers of more modest financial means. Thus, those with political power successfully employed the tax law to protect, preserve, and enhance prevailing wealth and income inequality. With the election of President Joe Biden and the assumption of Democratic control in both chambers of Congress, however, we now have the opportunity to repeal or modify a number of the TCJA’s provisions. Beyond suggesting specific short-term measures regarding tax rates, this article proposes a multi-faceted, long-term investment in education. Those completing higher education generally enjoy greater financial stability (and the enhanced ability to build and transfer wealth across generations). Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, the higher education experience facilitates exposure to those who are different, enables the conscious dismantling of prejudices, frustrates the confirmation of long-held biases, and thereby weakens those intangible, ignorance-rooted elements that have also played key roles in creating and perpetuating economic and a host of other inequalities. Given the burgeoning and burdensome cost of higher education, the article highlights the need to augment targeted tax expenditures to support student debtors, especially those who are unable to reap the tax benefits of homeownership or maximize retirement savings in the near term.