Powering prosperity for women means addressing gender inequities in the tax code

At Intuit, we believe you cannot have prosperity without equality. As we reflect during National Women’s History Month, the financial experiences of women and the unique challenges they face as taxpayers are front and center.

March is a time when we all come together to honor the remarkable women in our lives and communities. While we think about the women who inspire us, it’s also an opportunity to draw attention to the important work that remains to be done. When it comes to the complexities of the tax code, women encounter distinct challenges, and here at Intuit, we’re committed to empowering prosperity for every single person—especially the inspiring women who play an integral role in driving our collective success.

As leaders in the tax preparation industry, we are aware of some subtle—and some not-so-subtle—instances of gender inequalities that exist in the federal tax code. While the code itself makes no references to gender, many of the most beneficial credits and deductions available to taxpayers tend to skew toward male tax filers. 

The Equal Pay Act became law more than half a century ago, but today, women in the United States still earn only 82 cents for every dollar their male coworkers take home. For women of color, the wage gap is even wider. In 2023, the Pew Research Center found that Black women earned only 70% as much as white men, while Hispanic women came in even lower at 65%. As it relates to filing taxes and saving the most money, specific tax deductions tend to favor traditionally male-dominated occupations, like construction. 

When compared with men, women disproportionately leave the job market at higher rates to care for children and family members. Yet, many childcare and caregiving expenses are not tax-deductible. Women are taxed more on feminine products, known as the pink tax, while not getting tax breaks for these necessary items. In fact, former U.S. Senators Blanche Lincoln and Olympia Snowe point out many of these disadvantages in a recent op-ed they wrote in the Chicago Tribune.

Tax code inequities are also particularly troublesome for lower-income single women who disproportionately head up households with young children or act as family caregivers. Credits for these activities do exist in the form of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the Child Tax Credit (CTR), and the Child and Dependent Care Credit (CDCC), but, as most studies have shown, claiming credits is a complex ordeal, and the financial benefits often fall short of what is needed for millions of American families.

A study by Pew Research Center found that the share of single mothers employed and at work fell more than any other group during the pandemic and according to the TurboTax Tax Trend Report, head of household filers were more likely than any other group to see a decrease in adjusted gross income in 2021. The percentage of household filers who experienced a decrease, the majority of whom are women, dropped more than any other group, indicating recovery for this group lagged behind any other group. Although COVID relief was available in the form of an increased CTC and CDCC, this group of filers still did not recover from the pandemic by the time the additional relief went away and expenses outweighed any tax breaks available. 

At Intuit, we deeply believe that women’s economic empowerment is essential to achieving true equality in our society. We know that far too many women still face systemic barriers that prevent them from realizing their full economic potential. We are thrilled to see both Democrats and Republicans coming together to address these critical issues regarding gender equality as it relates to the tax code.

Equal pay, access to tax credits and deductions, and fairness in the tax code broadly are powerful ways to help level the playing field for women entrepreneurs and business owners. By expanding and reforming these credits, we can help prevent discrimination against women and help ensure we are powering their prosperity fairly and equally.

It’s critical that as we celebrate Women’s History Month, we continue to work together toward a future where every woman has the opportunity to achieve economic security and success. It’s time to recognize the vital contributions of women to our communities and to take meaningful steps toward ensuring that they are able to thrive and prosper.