The Critical Tax Project, Feminist Theory, and Rewriting Judicial Opinions
10 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2019 Last revised: 17 Sep 2019
Date Written: July 5, 2019
In this essay, the authors discuss the intellectual foundations for their co-edited book, Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Tax Opinions (2017), the first in a series of subject-matter specific volumes published in the U.S. Feminist Judgments Series by Cambridge University Press. Using only the facts and precedents in existence at the time of the original opinion, the contributors to this and other feminist judgments projects around the globe seek to show how application of feminist perspectives could impact, or even change, the holding or reasoning of judicial decisions. Underlying Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Tax Opinions is the belief that the study of taxation is inextricably linked to the study of inequality (and vice versa).
Critical tax scholars often encounter resistance from those who contend that tax statutes are neutral. Yet by centering the perspective of historically disempowered groups, one exposes how the tax laws contribute to and play a role in maintaining racial and gender inequality, among other types of injustice. Rewriting tax decisions from a feminist perspective is an exercise in showing — not telling — how the tax law can be harnessed in furtherance of greater equality for all people.
The authors proceed to introduce the essays in a symposium issue of the Pittsburgh Tax Review devoted to Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Tax Opinions. Eleven different individuals — including recent law school graduates, practicing attorneys, long-time teachers of U.S. tax law, and colleagues who study tax, but primarily systems other than that of the United States — contributed essays. Their topics include feminist statutory interpretation generally and reviews of individual rewritten opinions that address topics including tax benefits for married individuals; the deductibility of costs associated with gender confirmation surgery; and the masculine quality of certain business deductions. Colleagues from Sweden and Australia consider persistent gender bias and the role tax law could and should play in its elimination. Other contributors find inspiration in the book for their own teaching, learning or scholarship, offering suggestions for using the feminist judgments in the classroom, or to inspire statutory reform that rewards unpaid care and service work.
Keywords: feminist judgments, judges, judging, taxation, critical tax theory, gender, inequality
JEL Classification: K34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation