Inequitable Administration: Documenting Family for Tax Purposes

66 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2010 Last revised: 15 Mar 2011

See all articles by Anthony C. Infanti

Anthony C. Infanti

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law

Date Written: July 27, 2010


Family can bring us joy, and it can bring us grief. It can also bring us tax benefits and tax detriments. Often, as a means of ensuring compliance with Internal Revenue Code provisions that turn on a family relationship, taxpayers are required to document their relationship with a family member. Most visibly, taxpayers are denied an additional personal exemption for a child or other dependent unless they furnish the individual’s name, Social Security number, and relationship to the taxpayer.

In this article, I undertake the first systematic examination of these documentation requirements. Given the privileging of the “traditional” family throughout the Code, one might expect to see that same privileging mirrored in the administrative structure that underpins the Code’s family tax provisions. Indeed, on their very face, the information-reporting rules that apply to jointly owned income-producing property do just that.

Once the inquiry is expanded to cover other family tax provisions, however, it quickly becomes clear that the administrative structure underpinning the family tax provisions has also been strongly influenced by endemic privilegings along a variety of other axes of subordination - from class to race to gender to sexual orientation. To address and remedy these defects in the administrative structure underpinning the family tax provisions, this article advocates an approach to documenting family for tax purposes that does not invidiously discriminate among taxpayers.

Keywords: Tax, Family, Enforcement, Class, Race, Gender, Ethnicity, Sexual Orientation, Marital Status, Deductions, Credits, Exclusions, Information Reporting, Attribution, Constructive Ownership

JEL Classification: K34, K42

Suggested Citation

Infanti, Anthony C., Inequitable Administration: Documenting Family for Tax Purposes (July 27, 2010). Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, 2012; University of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-25. Available at SSRN:

Anthony C. Infanti (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law ( email )

3900 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States
412-648-1244 (Phone)
412-648-2648 (Fax)


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