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Into and Out of Citizenship, through Personal Tax Payments

Romanian Migrants’ Leveraging of British Self-Employment

Dora-Olivia Vicol

Abstract

This article builds on observations of self-employed Romanian migrants and their encounters with UK fiscal obligations to position tax as a distinct node in the worker-citizen nexus. Speaking to anthropological critiques of neoliberalism, I argue that economic activity is not merely the ethical imperative of a political order premised on self-reliance. It is also a practical test of migrants’ abilities to translate the moral capital of ‘hard work’ into the categories and bureaucracy of fiscal contribution. Analyzing migrants’ compliance with immigration controls and fiscal regimes, seen as a duty to ‘account for oneself’ in moral and financial terms, this article theorizes tax returns as a key junction in the worker-citizen nexus—one that can allow migrants into, but also confine them to the margins of, European citizenship.