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Taxing Women

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ISBN-13: 978-0226555584
ISBN-10: 0226555585
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In the Taxpayer Bill of Rights 2, passed in July 1996, Congress directed the Secretary of the Treasury and the General Accounting Office to report on the current system's effect on working spouses, responding to allegations that gender biases were deeply imbedded in federal tax laws. McCaffery (law, Univ. of Southern California and the California Inst. of Technology) here offers an earnest, scholarly dissection of those biases. While intended for general audiences, the book is rather dry and would have benefited from more charts and summaries and less theory. However, it is significant in its demonstration that the tax system is biased against working wives and mothers, favoring traditional male-headed families. The author criticizes the Contract with America as an attempt to take America back to the 1950s but concludes that, while necessary, change is unlikely.?Harry Charles, Attorney at Law, St. Louis
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Supply-siders tout a flat tax; Republicans want middle-class tax cuts as a part of any balanced budget deal; McCaffery, a law professor at the University of Southern California and California Institute of Technology, argues that the current tax structure is built on gender bias and urges change. Tax provisions developed to benefit the dominant single-earner family of the mid-twentieth century work "against stable families at the lower-income levels, against working wives at the upper-income ones and, by limiting satisfactory options, against the many families in between . . . [with] dramatic effects on fundamental decisions such as whether to marry or stay married, to work or not, to work part time or full." McCaffery analyzes the effects on individuals and families of joint filing, Social Security, child-care expenses, and so on, demonstrating that, amid rapid social change, "women have had to alter and even contort their behavior to fit traditional male patterns, while men, families, and the workplace have changed little, if any." A provocative call to action. Mary Carroll --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (November 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226555585
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226555584
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,215,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 9, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Taxing Women is a must-read for working women across America. Any woman who works while raising a family knows how hard it is to balance all of life's responsibilities. However, few women know how the tax system makes it even harder.
Taxing Women explains how the system operating today was created by males with a 50's mentality (think Pleasantville or Ozzie and Harriet). His well researched discussion elaborates on this philosophy and how the system it engendered is ill-equipped to deal with the two-earner family reality of today. By the way, don't let the word "tax" scare you. McCaffery provides easy to understand examples of situations where women are penalized for working.
I highly recommend this compelling book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tax Lawyer on January 3, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A fascinating read. I never knew how taxes played such a large affect on marriages and on working women. After reading this book, I suddenly understood that some of the root causes of the economic dilemmas for working mothers are actually caused by our tax system.

McCaffery is right--we need change, and this book explains why.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Here is a thought experiment that McCaffery's well researched and prescient study puts me in mind of. (I wish I could give this book a five plus plus plus.)

Imagine that you are playing a game of "Civilization." In your imaginary civilization, you are asked to create a tax code, and in your utopian society you decide that you prefer one that will privilege the single-earner home. This is your bias. You don't think two working parents is a good idea. Kids deserve at least one parent at home.

First, in your tax code, you decide that the second earner's paycheck will be aggregated with and then taxed on top of the first earner's, meaning that the spouse's salary owes a higher, sometimes much higher, marginal rate on each dollar he or she earns than did the first earner.

Then to meet your objective of luring the second earner out of the labor market, you ensure that this person will pay her (or his) full social security payroll tax (in 2013 up to $113,700; meanwhile stay-at-home spouses get to piggy back on half of their partner's social security contribution). When you add these income and payroll taxes onto the expenses that the second earner may incur by joining the work force, your imaginary second earner will face a marginal tax rate of over 50% on every dollar earned, not to mention childcare and other expenses required by employment. As one of my own friends put it, she (and indeed most of these second earners are women) decided to stop working as a lawyer when she realized that she was paying someone else to "live [her] life." But this was your goal, right, to slow down the migration of second earners out of the family and into the work force and thus to protect families.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Learning New Ways on October 14, 2012
Format: Paperback
Interesting book that 2-earner families, whether low, mid or high income, men who want to be real parents to their children, and women who want to take financial responsibility for themselves and their share of financial responsibility for children should read.

The author does a great job looking at income tax, Social Security tax, and other aspects of the tax code in how they create subsidies to sole breadwinners, who are most often male by simply dint of the biology of pregnancy and breast-feeding, which is actually a relatively tiny period of time compared to the full investment it takes to develop a child into an adult (22 or 23 years, actually, until full brain and physical growth in both boys and girls).

While here in 2012 there has been modest change in the system for families that make less than about $120,000 but who don't qualify for the EITC (from the aspects of the Bush Tax Cuts which both Obama and Romney plan to keep), broader problems for those families and families outside that limit persist. I can't help but believe that Obama would have had a more successful first term if he had focused on fixing these issues; the first Tea Party rally was created by a 30 year old female math teacher. While the Tea Party morphed into something else (including preserving sole breadwinner overentitlement), I sometimes wonder what would have happened if Obama, Geithner, Summers, Romer, had focused on the issues Cafferty raises in the economic recovery. Maybe we will see action on this in the next term, particularly if more people educate themselves on this.

A few suggestions:

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