Responsibility Vs Exploitation; The Thin Line on Black Tax

Financially Fit
3 min readSep 20, 2021
Black tax to some seems more like stressful, family-justified financial exploitation. | PHOTO: Nelson Gono

The responsibility that comes with Black Tax is rewarding to beneficiaries. Unfortunately, many professionals also say that it has fueled dependency. In some cases, it has led to financial parasitism.

You might argue that there is nothing wrong with taking care of your family when you happen to be having a steady monthly income. In the African context, black tax is seen as a giveback to appreciate your family for taking care of you to the point of financial independence. And now that you are in such a position to give, why not?

So the more they earn, the easier it is for them to contribute to the sustainable development of those around them. But where do we draw the line between financial aid and unsustainable dependency?

Many young professionals pay black tax to help Family members and relatives seek education, start businesses or rescue them from medical emergencies. The exponential impact of this pays off in the future. So the more they earn, the easier it is for them to contribute to the sustainable development of those around them. But where do we draw the line between financial aid and unsustainable dependency?

It often gets to a point that family members become manipulative to get financial assistance.

Lizzy, a Financially Fit follower shared how black tax affected her:

“I remember when my fiancée and I decided to get married. His family had to make an introductory visit to my home for formalities. I come from a single-mother household. When my brother was getting married my father had to be involved since it was money going out of the family and not so many people were involved, my turn, however, had everyone wanting to chip their heads in, it's money coming in.

My mother was the sole provider but had to resign from the toxic work environment she was in. As the firstborn, I took the mandate to help out financially. So, ever since I started working 6 years ago, I’ve been taking care of my family’s living expenses and house rent to any other thing you can mention.

The question that my mother kept raising was: Now that ‘our provider’ is getting married into a new home, what happens to the rest of us?

She adamantly warned me: your dad is not going to come to help us financially. If at all he comes, it will be to take the bride price and claim that you are his flesh and blood.

I had to postpone my bridal negotiations twice. I felt like instead of my family being happy for me and celebrating with me as I took this new journey, they were more inclined to their needs and what was for them at the end of the bargain, I was being exploited. What I felt or thought didn't matter to them at the time.”

The Dilemma

Truth is first-hand accounts of men and women who were first-generation university graduates who get their first jobs and are burdened to take out loans and credit cards to then repay their family for making sacrifices for paying for their education by paying for their current lifestyle and taking care of their bills.

Many African millennials find themselves in situations where there are no limits to the proportion of their income that goes to their family. They begin to pay for their family wants instead of needs. Eventually, they end up with no safety net or assets to fall back on in case they lot their source of income.

Drawing the Line

Money in your account does not always mean you can afford to give. Indiscriminate giving and unplanned lending can easily lead to long term consequences. The truth is simple.

You need to learn how to be assertive and sensitive towards how you handle your personal finances and family requests or needs. Black tax can easily break you by falling into financial distress.

Learning to be assertive and grounded comes in handy with dealing with the emotional abuse some are subjected to by insults and name-calling that comes with saying no.

You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.



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