Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Even Tax Day is Gendered

In honor of tax day today, from Slate It's April 15! Women, We Are Very Tax Compliant

[N]umerous experiments suggest a strong gender effect on tax compliance. Specifically, “Women seem to be more compliant than men,” says John Hasseldine, a professor of taxation at the University of New Hampshire. “You need to control for other variables, such as education and income level—for example, those in white-collar professions appear to be more compliant than blue-collar workers—but quite a few studies support the gender effect.” ***


Hasseldine views the compliance gap as a matter of socialization. I see his point: Girls get praised from a very young age for following the rules, while many boys learn early on via sports and roughhousing to take risks and chase glory.  ***


Yet men with “a strong male cultural identity” hopped from figurative crater to crater, eluding the asks of the government far more frequently post-audit than any of their peers.


Why? I asked Mittone. What’s so manly about tax evasion?


“The reaction seems to be driven by aggressiveness,” he replied. “If the government says, ‘I’m coming to look at you and find you out,’ it’s almost like they’re starting a fight. The men may perceive the audit as aggressive, and feel like they’re under formal attack. So they’re not going to want to cooperate; they’re going to react aggressively.”

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