A Taxing Feminism
Forthcoming in THE OXFORD HANDBOOK OF FEMINISM AND LAW IN THE UNITED STATES (Deborah L. Brake, Martha Chamallas & Verna Williams eds.)
25 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2020
Date Written: July 24, 2020
Feminist perspectives are not new to tax law. The first academic piece bringing a feminist perspective to bear on tax law dates to the early 1970s, when Grace Blumberg published “Sexism in the Code: A Comparative Study of Income Taxation of Working Wives and Mothers.” Contemporaneously, none other than Ruth Bader Ginsburg (along with her tax lawyer husband Marty Ginsburg) brought a feminist perspective to bear on tax law when she argued Moritz v. Commissioner before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, as depicted in the movie On the Basis of Sex. Since then, numerous other contributions have been made to the tax literature identifying ways in which a feminist perspective might influence tax reform debates.
After sketching the rich history of feminist tax jurisprudence, this chapter reflects upon the historical intransigence of mainstream tax academics, legislators, and the public when it comes to recognizing tax law as something more than a form of applied economics with no relation to feminist (or, for that matter, any other “noneconomic”) concerns. After exploring why feminist perspectives have historically had little purchase in the tax arena, the chapter shines a light on recent attention from legislators, think tanks, public policy organizations, and the public on the relationship between gender and tax law, providing some evidence that feminist tax perspectives may finally be taking hold in, and may eventually exert some influence over, the general tax policy discourse in the United States.
Keywords: tax, tax policy, feminism, gender, economics, critical, race, sexual orientation, Ginsburg, Moritz
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