Gender equality and taxation. A UK case study

de Henau, Jerome; Himmelweit, Susan and Santos, Cristina (2010). Gender equality and taxation. A UK case study. In: Grown, Karen and Valodia, Imraan eds. Taxation and gender equity. A comparative analysis of direct and indirect taxes in developing and developed countries. Routledge International Studies in Money and Banking. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 261–298.



The issue of taxes has always been a highly politicized one in the UK, and never more so than in 2009 as the UK government discusses how to rebalance its budget after rescuing its banking sector with its economy suffering its most severe financial crisis since the 1930s. Debates about taxes, however have tended to focus mainly on the overall level of taxation and government expenditure and on distributional effects between households. With the exception of the work of the Women's Budget Group, a think tank that regularly comments on the gender implications of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s annual budgets, little attention has been paid to the gender aspects of the taxation system. In particular, there has been little debate about what effects any proposals for tax rises to pay for a 2008 stimulus package or for bailing out the banking sector are likely to have on men and women.

This chapter seeks to address this gap by analysing some gender aspects of the UK personal income tax system and its expenditure taxes. Taxes have both distributional and behavioural impacts and both of these impacts can be gendered. In this chapter we consider their impact on both inter- and intra-household inequalities, as well as whether taxes reinforce or challenge existing gender roles.

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