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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: December 2010

3 - Tax policy in action: gender budgeting


Tax as an embedded institution

There is a new legal requirement upon the UK Treasury, and, at the moment, we are still figuring out what it means. It is called gender budgeting, and it is an obligation imposed upon every budget presented by a Chancellor, and passed by Parliament. The obligation is imposed by the European Union (EU) Gender Directive, and has been in effect from the 2008 Budget. The Directive, ‘implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services’, requires an accounting by government, to explain the impact of its expenditure upon gender equality.

The Budget is important, as it involves a regular statement of intent from a government to society, and a renewing reflection from society as to the pact it has formed with government. This chapter will consider the interaction between tax and women, as evidenced through the budgetary process. Additionally, the potential impact of the gender-budgeting movement upon the formulation of tax policy will be addressed. The chapter will proceed from the starting point that the global spread of gender budgeting is in many ways a positive development. Surprisingly, empirical research into, for example, responses based upon gender towards aspects of tax systems is almost non-existent. The objective appears to be to require a government to explain itself, in the event of intentional or accidental discriminatory expenditure along the lines of gender – and, to let in the light of day on budgetary processes that perhaps for too long had occurred in the shadows of rote process, or unthinking repetition.

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