Feminist Legal Studies Queen's

Queen's University
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Feminist Legal Studies Queen's

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'Identifying and Challenging Gender Ideologies Embedded in Fiscal Policy'

This paper will focus on the reluctance of tax policy makers (including judges) to question how tax law distributes resources between members of a family.  This reluctance is curious, given that tax policy has a special concern with "equity" as one of its core normative principles.  Thus any proposed change to tax rules undergoes a distributive analysis which compares its impact on different abstract individuals, different income groups, and different family forms.  And in adjudicating tax disputes, Courts often consider which interpretation of the law is most consistent with equity.  It is striking, however, that this distributive inquiry stops at the door of the family household.  When confronted with a question about intra-household resource distribution, tax policy makers either assume that all members benefit equally from any tax relief, or that it is not the business of tax law to question or intervene in private decision making about how family members will share control over income or assets.  I argue that this apparent contradiction reflects two ideological constructions: the family household as a zone governed by private choice, and taxation as a form of gender-neutral economic policy.

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