Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
Oral Presentation Session
Protests in France by the gilets jaunes are widely reported as motivated by new fuel taxes, implicitly connecting them to hegemonic anti-tax ideas. These ideas link taxes, citizenship, capital and the state in particular ways: cuts give people choice over spending their money, the public sector is bloated and the private sector more efficient. Similar rationales underpin corporate tax cuts said to stimulate business development and create jobs, making lower taxes for individuals and corporations appear to derive from shared interests and concerns. Attention to how dominant blocs shape the enduring characteristics of capitalism suggests that taxation policy is a critical piece in understanding how capital domination produces social subjects. Emerging analysis of the gilets jaunes suggests protest arises from more sophisticated recognition of divergent class interests, explicitly linking expanded taxes on ordinary people to tax cuts for corporations and the rich, with massive loss of state revenues. Tax policies have serious consequences in peoples’ lives. In the abstract these are debt, austerity, financialization and global warming. Concretely they are the cost of fuel when you have to drive to work because there is no public transportation. Concurrently, national tax policies for corporations and the rich, driven by international tax competition, permit tax avoidance and facilitate accumulation at an unprecedented level. Taking taxation as a critical field where the interests of citizens, capital and state intersect, the paper draws on Canadian materials to consider how understandings of shared or divergent interests underlying tax compliance and tax resistance/avoidance are being reshaped.