Study: “Gender Equality and Taxation in the European Union”

Written by Gunnarsson, Asa; Schratzenstaller, Margit ; Spangenberg, Ulrike;

On 30th of May the study “Gender equality and taxation in the European Union” was presented to the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) in the European Parliament which provides an overview of gender aspects in taxation at Member State and EU level and deals with the gender-specific effects of taxation systems.

Although most Member States have abolished tax regulations that implicitly differentiate between men and women, tax systems and fiscal policy decisions still affect women and men differently. As tax regulations interact with gender-differentiated socioeconomic realities, gender gaps persist. In general terms, it can be safely stated that on average men earn more and are wealthier than women.

The purpose of this study is to give – based on legal and economic perspectives – an overview of gender aspects in taxation in relation to current trends in taxations in the Member States as well as in relation to the obligation and commitments to prohibit discrimination and ensure substantive quality. After an outline of gender gaps in socioeconomic realities across Member States, relevant for taxation, the implementation of gender aspects at EU and Member State level and the existing legal approaches and obligations are reviewed critically. To take one example: Austria is one of the few countries where the government has defined specific goals for the tax system, such as promoting a more equal division of paid and unpaid work between women and men, enhancing the labor participation of women and reducing the gender pay gap.

Research results on gender-disaggregated effects are presented for the taxation of personal income, corporations and business income, property, and consumption. Finally, the study presents recommendations on how to improve gender equality in taxation, addressing tax design, gender gaps in data and research, and institutional implementation of gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting at the Union and Member State level. It is, for example, recommended to strengthen policies to promote the equal intra-household distribution of paid and unpaid work, to strengthen the redistributive impact of taxation and to take legal obligations to prohibit discrimination and ensure substantive gender equality with regard to taxation seriously.

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