The Theory and Practice of Taxing Difference

32 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2010

See all articles by Nancy C. Staudt

Nancy C. Staudt

Washington University Law School

Date Written: 1998


This is a review essay that examines Professor Edward McCaffery's important book, 'Taxing Women.' It argues that while McCaffery provides a detailed and nuanced analysis of the feminist and economic issues, his work is problematic in several ways. First, it is not clear that the optimal theory of taxation leads to the policy reform he proposes-it may be both underinclusive and overinclusive. Second, even if McCaffery has identified a clear economic rationale for taxing married women at a lower rate than men and single women, feminists may object to this proposed tax structure on a number of grounds. Finally, McCaffery's theoretical arguments for tax reform ignore the political problems associated with implementing legal change in the real world. As a number of political theorists have noted, legislators tend to pursue policies and programs that advance their own interests even when it entails rejecting public-regarding policy proposals. Despite these shortcomings, however, McCaffery's indepth and interdisciplinary analysis represents an important advance in this area of the law. Taxing Women is a book that will be of interest to a wide range of theorists and policymakers.

Keywords: Tax Policy, Taxation, Feminist Tax Policy, Economic Analysis

JEL Classification: K34, K39

Suggested Citation

Staudt, Nancy Christine, The Theory and Practice of Taxing Difference (1998). University of Chicago Law Review, Vol. 65, No. 2, 1998, Northwestern Law & Econ Research Paper No. 8-24, Available at SSRN:

Nancy Christine Staudt (Contact Author)

Washington University Law School ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

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