The Latest Gender Gap: People's Views About Taxes

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A new survey revealing key differences about how the sexes view their taxes. WalletHub"s 2014 Tax Fairness Survey, released last week, had its share of predictable findings:
  • Four out of five respondents think the U.S. tax code is "complex" or "extremely complex."
  • Nearly two out of three want corporations to pay higher tax rates than individuals pay.
  • Nine out of 10 think income from investments (interest, dividends, stock gains) should be taxed at least as much as wages. (The survey didn't ask people whether they'd like to pay more taxes, but we can probably guess what the answer would have been.)
Reading between the lines of the predictable answers, WalletHub stumbled upon a few interesting differences between how women and think the tax code should be arranged.

Asking what factors were most important in a tax system, WalletHub gave respondents three choices -- taxes calculated to encourage economic growth, to promote "equality" or to promote "fairness."

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%WalletHub noted that male respondents were "more likely than women to have responded tax equality is most important." Yet overall, only 21 percent of respondents favored making "equality" the defining characteristic of the tax code, and 61 percent said "fairness" is more important.

So how do we get to a "fairer" tax code? A sizable plurality (44 percent) think eliminating or reducing tax deductions is a good start -- and this appears to appeal to men particularly.

Nearly half of male respondents (48 percent) favor getting rid of tax deductions as a means of getting to a fairer tax code. Only 36 percent of women want to get rid of tax deductions for fairness' sake.

Flat = Equal? Hardly

As for the ultimate of equality in taxation -- a flat tax -- fewer than one in four respondents want to go that route. In fact, more than three-quarters favor progressive taxation -- either the system we have or some variant.

But here, too, a difference of opinion arises between the sexes. While 29 percent of men favor a national flat income tax, only 20 percent of women do. While it's a clear minority position across the population, that still means men are about 50 percent more likely to favor a flat tax than are women.

Sticking It to 'the Man'

One place that WalletHub respondents are even more decidedly against flat taxation than usual is when it comes to corporations. Per Supreme Court dictate, "corporations are people," but a sizable majority of Americans (65 percent) say that corporations should pay higher tax rates than human people do.

Women appear to be particularly enthusiastic about levying higher corporate tax rates, with 73 percent of respondents in favor. Men are more evenly divided: 55 percent for, 45 percent against. Digging deeply into the statistics and controlling for "age, region, education, race and income," WalletHub found that women as a whole are more than three times as likely to support higher taxes on corporations.

Vive la Difference!

What explains the differences in views of taxation between men and women? It's hard to say from the results of just one survey, but the findings were so intriguing that WalletHub intends to perform additional surveys.

One key statistic may offer a clue. Nationally, married couples with dependent children now make up just 20 percent of households in the U.S. "Single dad" households comprise just 6 percent. Households headed by single moms, on the other hand, now account for 25 percent of households in the country.

That makes single moms the second-largest "head of household" demographic in the U.S. (behind single-person households, at 28 percent). And if these trends continue, women heads-of-household could soon outnumber traditional married-filing-jointlies and households headed by men -- combined.

It only stands to reason that, solely responsible for the finances of themselves and their children, this growing demographic might have a few opinions about how a tax system that was fair to them might look.

No offense, but Motley Fool writer Rich Smith counts himself among the 52 percent of Americans who think that you should pay more of his taxes (he said, putting a spin on the Gallup poll results).

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The Latest Gender Gap: People's Views About Taxes
As if his $65 billion Ponzi scheme and serving a 150-year federal prison sentence for it wasn't enough, prosecutors in January 2014 revealed an IRS analysis showing Madoff didn't report $242.9 million in federal taxes from 1993 through 2007. Some of his former employees are also accused of having unreported income, one as high as $3.5 million.
The billionaire creator of Beanie Babies was sentenced in January 2014 to two years of probation for tax evasion on $25 million in income that he kept in Swiss bank accounts. Prosecutors say Warner earned $3.1 million in gross income in 2002 through a secret offshore account starting in 1996. He has agreed to pay $53.5 million, half of the amount he had in a secret UBS account. The federal government has pushed for high-profile prosecutions of Americans concealing income overseas, often in Switzerland.
Wilson, the self-proclaimed "First Lady" of tax fraud, was sentenced in July 2013 to 21 years in prison, according to an IRS list of top cases it prosecuted focused on identity theft. Wilson, then 27, of Tampa Bay, Fla., was also ordered to pay $2.2 million. Larry was sentenced to 14.5 years in prison and ordered to forfeit $2.2 million. From at least April 2009 through their arrests in September 2012, the pair fraudulently obtained tax refunds by receiving U.S. Treasury checks and pre-paid debit cards loaded with proceeds from false tax returns they filed in the names of other people without those persons' permission or knowledge, according to the IRS. Wilson boasted on Facebook that she was untouchable and spent lavishly, including $90,000 on an Audi A8 and $30,000 on her son's first birthday party.
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The doomsday prophet from Cincinnati was convicted in June 2012 of five counts of tax evasion for not paying more than $300,000 in taxes between 2005 and 2010. He funneled money into a foreign bank account, lied on his tax forms and wrote off personal expenses as church expenses, a grand jury found. Weinland has wrongly predicted the world would end a few times.
The former chief administrator of the small California city of Bell, Rizzo was sentenced in April 2014 to 33 months in federal prison for tax evasion. He also faces 10 to 12 years in prison on 69 corruption counts. He was ordered to pay nearly $256,000 in restitution to the IRS after pleading guilty in January to federal counts of conspiracy and filing a false federal tax return. Rizzo paid himself as much as $1.1 million as Bell's top administrator before he was fired in 2010. Federal prosecutors say that from 2005 to 2010 he claimed more than $770,000 in phantom losses on his tax returns. 
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