Gender and Tax Policies in the Global South
K4D Helpdesk Report 817
There is a limited, but growing body of literature on the gender effects of taxation. Most of the studies are from the global north and relate to details of direct personal income tax policies and indirect taxes with a small but growing body of work focused in the Global South, primarily exploring indirect, small, and informal taxes. The findings suggest that explicit biases against women continue to exist in some countries around personal income taxes, but is of less concern to a majority of women in the global south mainly because few women work in the formal sector and are subject to personal income tax. Policies are one part of the gender picture, their implementation and enforcement another. Here women are more likely than men to be at a disadvantage as they are less economically literate, less aware of the law and their liabilities, and more vulnerable to being targets of harassment. Governments can seek not only to remove implicit biases against women, but use tax policies to enhance the status of women in the economic sphere by incentivising labour force participation, land asset ownership and the growth of women-owned businesses. Simultaneously, governments should use tax policies to reduce the biases against women by not raising revenue through user fees, and properly resourcing public services.