Latino Studies Taxation and Latinos
Leo P. Martinez, Sophie Kuehl
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 August 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199913701-0124


While this article deals with the intersection of Latinos and taxation, there is a dearth of scholarly work that deals with this intersection. This shortage is all the more surprising given that Latinos will likely constitute the largest plurality in the United States within the next fifty years. Indeed, according to the 2020 US Census, the Latino population in the United States was estimated to be on the order of 62 million and Latinos accounted for 51 percent of the nation’s total population growth over the preceding decade. While a lack of attention may explain this phenomenon, the absence of a definition for who comprises the Latino population poses a significant problem. Beginning with the establishment of the relevant ethnography, this bibliography addresses the many aspects of the Internal Revenue Code that operate to the disadvantage of Latinos. These areas range from code provisions that are seemingly neutral, such as the tax benefits associated with home ownership and education, to those code provisions that are aimed at dealing with income inequality, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Who Is Latino?

This bibliography begins with reference to works that address the threshold question: who is Latino? The scholarship includes that of the former dean of Stanford University Law School, a former justice of the California Supreme Court, the dean of the University of California-Davis School of Law, and several other prominent scholars. Though this area requires further research, the use of the term “Latino” appears to be an attempt to avoid the homogenization implicit in the term “Hispanic.” Many well-known scholars, including the authors of Brest and Oshige 1995, López 1998, Mendez and Martinez 2002, and Reynoso 2005, have suggested the population included within the term Latino is comprised of political community, citizenship, self-identification, race, assimilation, history, and language. This perspective appears to be the decided trend. A refinement of this idea is taken in Trucios-Haynes 2000, which highlights the methodological fallacy of attempting to place Latino/as in the Black-White paradigm. This perspective is used in Padilla 2022 to effect in another context, suggesting the efficacy of this approach. Another significant problem in accounting for racial disparities is the lack of data. United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) 2022 calls attention to the lack of data the federal government collects about tax policy impacts within the context of racial demographics. The GAO cites legal restrictions that limit collection of demographic data. Bearer-Friend 2019 also notes the lack of data but suggests the tax authorities are not as limited as they seem.

  • Bearer-Friend, Jeremy. “Should the IRS Know Your Race? The Challenge of Colorblind Tax Data.” Tax Law Review 73.1 (2019): 1–70.

    Chronicles the exclusion of race data from tax documents despite the IRS having the legal authority and technological resources to collect and analyze such information. Argues that colorblind tax data obstructs the ability of data analysts to evaluate racially disparate impacts of the tax code and hold our government accountable for preserving democratic systems with discriminatory effects. Poses alternative methods of collecting race data related to tax policies that focus on voter awareness and governmental transparency.

  • Brest, Paul, and Miranda Oshige. “Affirmative Action for Whom?” Stanford Law Review 47.5 (1995): 855–900.

    DOI: 10.2307/1229177

    Provides insight into the term Latinos. Latinos, though a diverse group in the aggregate, are seriously disadvantaged compared to whites. They are far more likely than whites to live in poverty because a large proportion of them are recent immigrants.

  • Krogstad, Jens Manuel, and Mark Hugo Lopez. “Hispanic Population Reaches Record 55 Million, but Growth Has Cooled.” Pew Research Center, 25 June 2015.

    Chronicles Latino population trends. The Latino population reached a new high of 55.4 million in 2014 (or 17.4 percent of the total US population). This number reflects a growth rate of 2.1 percent, which continues a trend of slower growth that began in 2010. Part of this growth rate reduction is due to the slowdown in immigration from Latin America and Mexico.

  • López, Gerald P. “Learning about Latinos.” Chicano-Latino Law Review 19 (1998): 363–415.

    Comprehensive discussion as to the origin and meaning of the term “Latino.” Offers perspective based on political community, citizenship, self-identification, race, assimilation, history, and language. Decries the dearth of scholarship regarding Latinos. Latinos should appreciate that the very structure of the American mainstream, including taxation, is up for grabs. Advocates for tax-supported bilingual education and public services in Spanish.

  • Mendez, Miguel A., and Leo P. Martinez. “Toward a Statistical Profile of Latina/os in the Legal Profession.” Berkeley La Raza Law Journal 13 (2002): 59–86.

    Uses the term “Latino” instead of “Hispanic” to refer to those who trace their ancestry principally to Spanish-speaking Latin American countries.

  • Mendoza, Gustavo Chacon. “Gateway to Whiteness: Using the Census to Redefine and Reconfigure Hispanic/Latino Identity, in Efforts to Preserve a White National Identity.” University of La Verne Law Review 30 (2008): 160–179.

    Develops a rough taxonomy of the term “Latino.” This includes ancestry in the form of a Spanish surname and language use. Physical appearance can also be a distinguishing characteristic although it may well be imprecise and under inclusive.

  • Oquendo, Ángel R. “Re-imagining the Latino/a Race.” Harvard BlackLetter Journal 12 (1995): 96–99.

    See also p. 93. Condemns racial subcategories that prevent Latinos from identifying as their own race, independent of Black, white, or another color. Identifies the term “Latino” as being more inclusive and more appropriate to use than the term “Hispanic.”

  • Padilla, Laura M. “The Black-White Paradigm’s Continuing Erasure of Latinas: See Women Law Deans of Color.” Denver Law Review 99.4 (2022): 683–723.

    Explains how the Black-White paradigm tends to squeeze out Latina identity in different contexts. Thus, there is a lack of Latina women present in notable communities, such as leading law school administrators. Provides data highlighting demographics of law school professors and law school deans to show that despite the substantial presence of Latina law professors, law school deans tend to be either Black or white.

  • Passel, Jeffrey S. Estimates of the Size and Characteristics of the Undocumented Population. Pew Hispanic Center, 21 March 2005.

    Catalogues undocumented residents of the United States. The overwhelming majority (about 81 percent) of the almost fourteen million undocumented US residents are Latino. Of these, most are from Mexico (57 percent) with others representing various Latin American countries (24 percent).

  • Reynoso, Cruz. “A Survey of Latino Lawyers in Los Angeles County—Their Professional Lives and Opinions.” University of California Davis Law Review 38.5 (2005): 1563–1642.

    Contains insight into the term “Latino.” Although Latino is commonly used to refer to an ethnic group, Latinos do not comprise a monolithic community. Latinos are a very diverse group and identify themselves by various ethnic backgrounds, usually based on their own regional roots or those of their ancestors.

  • Sandrino-Glasser, Gloria. “Los Confundidos: De-conflating Latinos/as’ Race and Ethnicity.” Chicano-Latino Law Review 19 (1998): 69–162.

    Observes that Latinos are the fastest growing segment of the American population. Provides a rationale for making “Latino” the preferred descriptive term to dispel the homogenization implicit in the term “Hispanic.”

  • Schiller, Reuel. Forging Rivals: Race, Class, Law, and the Collapse of Postwar Liberalism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511998034

    Discusses the notion that racial egalitarianism assumes that the goals of African Americans are the same as those of Latinos and other racial and ethnic groups. Outlines various areas of difference, including employment discrimination, housing discrimination, and bilingual education.

  • Trucios-Haynes, Enid. “Why Race Matters: LatCrit Theory and Latina/o Racial Identity.” Berkeley La Raza L.J. 12.1 (2000): 1–62.

    Spells out the confusion around how Latinas/os fit into the racial paradigm and the impact it has on Latina/o communities. Explains how Latina/o identity does not square within the Black-White paradigm and how confusion is sown by the malleability of Latina/o identity. Advocates for a definition of race that creates space for all people of color and acknowledges the contributions they have made and their place in America.

  • US Census Bureau. “2020 Census Illuminates Racial and Ethnic Composition of the Country.” Washington, DC: US Census Bureau, 2020.

    Observes the Hispanic or Latino population, which includes people of any race, was 62.1 million in 2020. The Hispanic or Latino population grew 23 percent, while the population that was not of Hispanic or Latino origin grew 4.3 percent since 2010. Latinos accounted for 51 percent of the nation’s total population growth over the preceding decade.

  • US Government Accountability Office. “Tax Equity: Lack of Data Limits Ability to Analyze Effects of Tax Policies on Households by Demographic Characteristics.” GAO-22-104553. Washington, DC: US Government Accountability Office, 2022.

    Calls attention to the lack of data the federal government collects about tax policy impacts within the context of racial demographics. Attributes the dearth of taxpayer demographic data to legal restrictions placed upon the IRS: current law permits the IRS to collect taxpayer data only when it is in furtherance of administering the tax code. Recommends that the Treasury Department should borrow relevant data from other agencies, such as the Census Bureau, to better understand the effects of the IRC on diverse households.

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