The Latest Gender Gap: People's Views About Taxes

difference gender

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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