Expert: Develop tax policies that favour caregivers

A woman with her baby wrapped on her side traverses estates in Elburgon Town, Nakuru County  selling woven plastic baskets in this photo taken on April 4, 2020. A taxation specialist has called on countries to develop tax policies that enable care providers to prosper.

Photo credit: John Njoroge | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • A taxation and gender specialist says continued reliance on regressive taxes such as Value Added Tax would widen gender inequalities, beating efforts made towards bridging the gaps.
  • She says States need to restructure the tax systems to move away from reliance of regressive consumption taxes that continue to particularly penalise women.

A taxation and gender specialist has called on countries to develop tax policies that enable care providers, majority of whom are women, to prosper.

Global Alliance for Tax Justice, Policy and Campaigns Coordinator - Africa Caroline Othim, said countries ought to be transformative in revenue collection.

She said for countries to attain tax justice (a state where everybody is able to pay their fair share of taxes according to their ability), governments must transform their fiscal policies.

“We need a shift in our fiscal policies so that we are able to prioritise gender equality and wellbeing of the people,” she said during a November 3, Care and Tax justice webinar by Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation

She held that continued reliance on regressive taxes such as Value Added Tax would widen gender inequalities, beating efforts made towards bridging the gaps.

Penalise women

“States need to restructure the tax systems to move away from reliance of regressive consumption taxes that continue to particularly penalise women,” she observed.

“(This is) because women are the ones who are most likely to be responsible for the family budgets and in part-time employment and, therefore, pay a high fraction (of their salaries or wages).”

She said governments should rather focus on “taxing the wealth and top incomes or closing the loopholes from the multinational corporations so that they don’t use secrecy jurisdictions to stash away cash.”

Ms Othim recommended establishment of care policies to promote realisation of progressive gender responsive taxation, that will in long-term, accelerate achievement of gender equality.

Care work is both paid and unpaid work, according to the International Labour Organisation. It can be direct such as personal and relational activities including caring for children or nursing someone who is ill. It can also be indirect, which involves cooking and cleaning.

The agency notes that the care economy is growing as the demand for childcare and care for the elderly is increasing in all regions.

It, however, says the care work remains characterised by a void of benefits and protections, low wages or non-compensation. Those who are providing the care are also exposed to physical, mental and, in some cases, sexual harm, it notes.

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