It’s a Man’s World: Revealing and Addressing Hidden Gender Bias in Tax Law and Policy
Thursday, October 17 and Friday, October 18, 2024

Skadden Conference Room 11-AB
1440 New York Ave. NW, Washington DC


(subject to change)


4:30 – 6:30 p.m.

Academic Roundtable


  • Irina Ewing (University of Florida)
    Gender Disparities in the U.S. Tax Code: An Analysis of Economic Inequities
  • Ashley R. Hilliard (North Carolina Central University)
    Unattached and Taxed: Eliminating the “Singles Tax” and Food Waste in the United States
  • Diane Kemker (Loyola Marymount University and Pepperdine University)
    The Co-Constitutive Nature of Gender and Disability: Hidden Gender Bias in Sec. 213 and Sec. 104(a)(2)
  • Lauren Shores Pelikan (University of Missouri)
    Tax Reform to Solve the Childcare Crisis in Two Parts: Affordability and Availability
  • Natasha Varyani (Roger Williams University)
    Encouraging Female Property Ownership


7:45 – 8:15 a.m.

Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:15 a.m.

Introduction and Opening Remarks

Panel I: Marriage, Inequality, and the Tax Code

The decision to marry is more than just a personal decision. In addition to having wide-ranging social, economic, and other consequences, marriage is an important status that determines eligibility for certain tax benefits and preferences under U.S. law. Why is this the case? Should the tax law privilege marriage over other types of human relationships? Across the category of eligible “married” taxpayers, does the tax law treat all couples equally under the law? How do identity axes such as race, gender identity, and sexual orientation complicate conversations about the tax treatment of married couples and different families? What do taxpayers even understand about the tax benefits of marriage, especially joint return filing? How does the tax system take into account non-harmonious families, including those that have experienced abuse, domestic violence, or intimate partner violence?

Moderator: Bridget J. Crawford, (Pace University)

Commentator: Lee-ford Tritt, (University of Florida)



Refreshment Break


Panel II: Our Bodies, Our Voices, Our (Tax) Selves

Examining who and what is taxed and how tax laws are made reveals much about a society’s structure and values. What is known about tax-related legislative hearings in the United States Congress? Whose voices are showcased, and whose are absent? How does tax law contribute to understanding what work, bodies, and activities have “value” in society? What does a study of the tax treatment of artificial reproductive technology and other reproduction-related expenses illuminate about a society’s definition of “health” and the role of a functioning healthcare system? How can one understand tax preferences for certain nonprofit organizations, including those that discriminate on the basis of race or gender? How might considering the intersection of tax law and human rights reshape thinking about structural inequality?

Moderator and Commentator: TBD


  • Caroline Bruckner (American University) and Colin Coil (University of Vermont)
    Tax Policy and Gender Representation: An Analysis of a Decade of Tax-Writing Committee Hearing Witnesses
  • Tessa Davis (University of South Carolina)
    Imagining the Body in Tax
  • Daniel N. Shaviro (New York University)
    New Frontiers in Medicine, and the Income Tax’s Role as a Back-up Health Insurance System
  • Elaine Waterhouse Wilson (West Virginia University)
    Revisiting Bob Jones University in an Era of Expansive Free Exercise


Panel III: Tax and Gendered Care Work

Despite strides toward gender equality, girls and women in many countries spend substantially more time than men do on unpaid care activities, including childcare, eldercare, and household chores. Which taxpayers benefit and which are overlooked by the tax law’s current treatment of care work? What types of care work are treated as tax-preferred? How might the tax system better account for the value of care work? How do rules around tax reporting and administration support or complicate care work? How do unpaid and paid childcare workers understand their tax obligations? How well do they comply?

Moderator and Commentator: Elaine Maag (U.S. Department of the Treasury and Urban Institute)
Additional Commentator: TBD


  • Michelle Drumbl (Washington and Lee University)
    Custody, Co-Parenting, Cohabiting: Refundable Tax Credit Design Challenges
  • Nyamagaga Gondwe (University of Wisconsin)
    Women in the Household: Unpacking the "Imputed Income" Account of Domestic Labor
  • Amy Matsui (National Women’s Law Center) and Amy Royce (National Women’s Law Center)
    Advancing Gender and Racial Justice by Supporting Caregiving Through the Tax Code


Keynote Address and Boxed Lunch


Panel IV: Women, Financial Precarity, and Taxation

In the United States, women are more likely than men to live in poverty. They are also more likely than men to be among the working poor. How, if at all, does the tax law account for the gendered nature of poverty? How do certain tax benefits, like the work opportunity credit, impact low-income and precarious jobs, sectors in which women are overrepresented? Why does the tax law privilege certain types of (unearned) income over others? Who benefits from those rules? What vulnerabilities are faced by mothers, especially single mothers who are jailed or detained, in accessing certain family-related tax benefits? Who benefits and who suffers when governments provide or deny tax benefits to large corporations that employ a disproportionate number of women in low-wage positions?

Moderator and Commentator: Katherine Pratt (Loyola Marymount University)
Additional Commentator: TBD


  • Stephanie Hunter McMahon (University of Cincinnati)
    Work Opportunity Credits: Ineffective for Men But Horrible for Everyone Else
  • Ann Murphy (Gonzaga University)
    Capital Gains Treatment Fails to Reach People of Color and Women of All Races
  • Kerry Ryan (St. Louis University)
    Mothers in Jail: A Taxing Issue
  • Carla Spivack (Albany Law School)
    Pay Less; Smile More: Big Box Stores and the Subsidized Workforce


Refreshment Break


Panel V: Tax Design, Administration and Policy: What Gender Neutrality Has to Do With It

The laws of the United States and most other countries make no formal distinctions between the tax obligations of “men” and “women.” The United States Internal Revenue Code uses highly gendered language (with “he” and “him” being the taxpayer and “she” and “her” being the taxpayer’s spouse). Still, the law applies without regard to sex or gender identity. Notwithstanding gender neutrality, are some tax rules, practices, and policies more beneficial for men than women? What lessons might U.S. lawmakers draw from the examples of other countries? How is it even possible to identify areas of the tax law’s disproportionate impact on the basis of identity axes, such as gender identity, sexual preference, and race, unless this data is gathered and reported by the government? Can tax law and policy be used to remediate the gendered aspects of wealth inequality? What would true “gender neutrality” in the tax law look like, anyway, and is that desirable?

Moderator and Commentator: Roberta Mann (University of Oregon)


  • Yvette Lind (BI Norwegian Business School and University of Edinburgh) and James Alm (Tulane University)
    Is a Gender-Neutral Income Tax Feasible?
  • Phyllis Taite (University of Oklahoma)
    Tax Policy in a Space of Uncertainty
  • Cristina Trenta (Linnaeus University, Sweden)
    A Gender-based Inquiry of the EU VAT System


Panel VI: Unintended Consequences, Unexpected Tools: Dismantling Structural Inequalities in the Tax System

In one crucial respect, lawmakers are like the rest of us: No one can predict the future. At the same time, scholars and policymakers often find themselves scratching their heads and wondering whether tax reformers have considered the consequences of their decisions beyond scoring political points with their constituents. What are some of the recent statutory or judicial developments that appear to have been aimed at tax simplification but have led to disincentives for so-called “secondary” earners (who tend to be women) or have exacerbated income and wealth inequality along racialized-gendered lines? How do the tax laws preserve and bolster retirement policies that fail to benefit the working poor? How can existing tax (and other) rules, such as those applicable to retirement plans and social security, be harnessed to improve overall social well-being, especially that of girls, women, and all minoritized and marginalized people?

Moderator and Commentator: Anthony Infanti (University of Pittsburgh)


  • Jennifer Bird-Pollan (Wayne State University)
    The State and Local Tax Deduction Cap and its (Unintended?) Sexist Consequences
  • Richard L. Kaplan (University of Illinois)
    Gender Discrimination in Retirement Plan Distributions
  • Goldburn P. Maynard, Jr. (Indiana University)
    Minority Women and the Retirement Bait and Switch
  • Kathryn L. Moore (University of Kentucky)
    Gender Bias in Social Security Spouse and Surviving Spouse Benefits

3:55 p.m.

Concluding Remarks


Symposium Sponsors

Support for this program is provided by







Temple University

Birnbaum Women's Leadership Center at NYU

NYU Tax Law Center




Pace University






Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review

Pittsburgh Tax Review


Papers from this Symposium will be published in the Pittsburgh Tax Review, the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, and other journals.