Today was the second day of the conference on “Gender Equality, Tax Policies and Tax Reform in Comparative Perspective” held at The Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. Both the formal presentations and informal conversations among conference participants explored how tax laws and policies can impact women, men and families differently.
The first session of the day was”Taxation and Marriage in the USA.” Dennis Ventry of UCLA Law School (next year joining the faculty at American University) gave an historical perspective on the joint income tax return and how the U.S. tax system continues to protect traditional families and punish non-traditional families. I spoke about the tax treatment of marital wealth transfers and why I think husbands and wives should not be treated as a single taxpayer for estate and gift tax purposes. (Shameless plug: My paper can be downloaded here.) The second morning panel,”Gender, Taxation and Development,”featured papers by Janet Stotsky of the International Monetary Fund (analyzing several countries’ indirect taxes from a gendered perspective) and Evelyn Huber of the University of North Carolina (looking at tax reform in Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica and Jamaica). The conference drew over thirty scholars from nine countries. The conference was intellectually stimulating and encouraged dialogue among legal scholars, economists, other social scientists and policy makers.