Table of Contents

  • Efforts to integrate a gender perspective into public budgeting decisions have been going on for almost 20 years. In 1984, the Australian government introduced the first ‘gender budget’ exercise, which led ultimately to a gender review of all federal, state and territorial government expenditures and some elements of revenue. At the 1995 United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing, governments made a commitment to incorporate a gender perspective into budgetary processes in order to support gender equality. Since then, work by women’s NGOs, other civil society organisations, academics and multilateral organisations has shown that the analysis of government expenditures can be an important tool for addressing gender inequities.1 Analysts and activists are now increasingly interested in how to bring a gender perspective to the revenue side of the budget, as well as how to use gender revenue analysis as a tool for advancing gender equality.

  • In both developed and developing countries, governments collect taxes to fund public services. Although many developing countries are highly dependent on foreign aid, taxes are the principal own-revenue source. Other own-revenue sources are non-tax revenue, which includes fees, licences, mineral rights, etc., and capital revenue, which includes income from sales of government assets, including privatisations.

  • This section reviews key concepts that guide tax policy analysis. As stated previously, tax policy is at the heart of the political debate as to the level of public services that should be provided and who should pay for them. To engage in this debate from the perspective of gender equality in taxation, it is important to understand the concepts that are used, as well their limitations. Tax policy analysis seeks to identify the impact of tax policy options on individuals, households, businesses, and economic growth and development, so that government decision-makers and the public can make informed policy decisions. Gender analysis of tax policy seeks to identify the differential impact on women and men of tax alternatives, to the extent that their social and economic roles and responsibilities are different, in order to ensure gender equity. In developing countries, most people – and especially most women – are poor, so the analysis of both income and gender equity is central to tax policy analysis.

  • For this paper, we reviewed more than 67 studies that explored various dimensions of gender and taxation. These studies are summarised in Table 5.1. Most studies focus on a single country; far fewer provide comparative analyses of the gender dimensions of tax policy. The majority of the studies examine the gender dimensions of taxation in the industrialised countries, although there is a growing body of work on the gender dimensions of tax policy in countries like South Africa, Vietnam and Chile. In the industrialised country literature, the topics covered most frequently are the impact of personal income taxes on labour supply, gender biases in systems of joint versus individual taxation and gender biases in social security taxes. The developing country studies focus on gender biases of indirect taxes and the gender dimensions of user fees.

  • The literature review in the previous section shows that there is a wide range of ways in which tax policy can have a gender-differentiated impact. This section discusses the principal tax policy debates of special relevance to developing countries, some general tax issues for developing countries and specific issues which are of importance to a gender analysis of taxation.

  • This section discusses possible methodological approaches and analytical tools for gender revenue analysis. The first part reviews the standard tax analysis methodologies used by tax practitioners to evaluate the impact of tax proposals on individuals and on specific sectors of the economy and their relevance for gender analysis: tax burden analysis; tax incidence analysis; representative taxpayer analysis; microsimulation models; and macrosimulation models. The second part discusses methodologies applied to expenditure analysis by gender responsive government budgeting (GRGB) initiatives and their applicability to gender revenue analysis.

  • Tax systems are not gender neutral. They contain both explicit and implicit gender biases. Gender revenue analysis is an important tool for revealing and correcting this bias. Such analysis can advance the commitment made by governments in the 1995 Platform for Action following the UN World Conference on Women to incorporate a gender perspective in budgetary processes as a means of supporting gender equality and development programmes that enhance women’s empowerment.