Gender and Tax Primer, 2016 Sept
Fiscal policies of governments mainly involve revenues and expenditures. JSAPMDD considers these two areas of fiscal policy important for obvious reasons – we need to examine whether governments equitably source funds and whether public spending is in keeping with people’s needs.
However, though significant work has gone into holding governments to account for their expenditures, there is still much ground to cover in taking governments to task and holding them accountable for the revenue-sourcing aspect of their fiscal policies, specifically taxation.
In many developing Asian countries, tax policies often cause a heavier tax burden to fall on ordinary wage earners and consumers as compared to elites and corporations. Yet they are also the least served in terms of essential social services which are commonly inadequate and increasingly subjected to privatization in many developing countries. Thus, at both points of collecting and spending the public revenues earned from taxation, there are prevailing conditions of inequality and inequity.
Much less studied are the gender dimensions of this inequitable situation. Often, tax is an issue that is not easily linked to the economic disempowerment and impoverishment especially of grassroots women.Yet, it is important to also examine tax issues as gender justice issues. Women in South countries are generally economically insecure due to differences in socio-cultural status, education and employment opportunities, access to and control over resources such as land, and other factors. How are they affected by inequitable tax policies? And how can we work at making gender justice a key element of tax justice?
These and other questions are tackled in this issue brief on gender equality and tax justice. For purposes of this brief, we focus on tax revenues (rather than non-tax revenues) as the main and most important source of public revenues and their gender dimensions. It is hoped that this material will be a useful reference in our tax justice advocacy and campaigning efforts, and capacitate women in engaging the gender dimensions of tax issues as part of their struggles for economic empowerment.