Today and tomorrow the International Institute for the Sociology of Law in Onati, Spain hosts a workshop on “Challenging Gender Inequality in Tax Policy Making.” Workshop organizers are Asa Gunnarsson (Department of Law, Umea University, Sweden), Lisa Phillipps (Osgoode Hall Law School, Canada), Kimberley Brooks (McGill University, Canada) and Maria Wersig (Berlin, Germany).
The first panel this morning focused on “Tax Reform and Fundamental Theories.” Asa Gunnarson spoke about “Challenging the Benchmarks in Tax Theories from a Gender Perspective.” Part of her presentation critiqued optimal tax theory as reproducing gender inequality. Kathy Lahey (Queen’s University, Canada) presented her work on “Women and Taxation: Framing the Issues, Challenging the Ontologies.” Professor Lahey addressed ways in which the tax system magnifies market disparities between women and men. Dorothy Brown (Emory University, Georgia, United States) presented her work on “All Income is not Created Equal: Tax Winners and Losers by Race, Class and Gender.” Professor Brown explored how the progressive tax system is a cause of systematic inequality for African-Americans and women of all colors.
The second morning panel, “Conceptions of Family I,” included presentations by Frances Wooley (Economics, Carleton University, Canada) and Kirsten Scheiwe (University of Hildesheim, Germany). Professor Wooley shared preliminary results of an empirical study of same-sex taxpayers in Canada in “The Tax Implications of Same-Sex Marriage.” Professor Scheiwe’s work asks, “Redistribution Through Child Benefits and/or Child-Related Allowances – What Makes the Difference?” She suggested that tax law should take into account unavoidable family obligations that limit the available amount of time a taxpayer has to engage in other market activity.
So far, it has been a thought-provoking program raising big, brain-hurting questions about the multiple connections between social justice and economic vitality.