Gender bias even shows up on your tax forms

Gender bias even shows up on your tax forms

It’s basic manners abiding by a “ladies first” policy… but new research shows that that is rarely, if ever, the actual case.

A new study found that the reality of being a woman, according to the numbers, means frequently coming in second place to your male counterpart — especially during tax season.

Data scientists at H&R Block examined aggregated info for the millions of people who have filed taxes with the company and it tells a fascinating story. For heterosexual married couples filing jointly, the man’s name is listed first on the tax form 86 percent of the time — even when the woman is the main breadwinner.

As you let that soak in, consider this: A 2017 study found that 31 percent of the women surveyed were the primary wage earner and that the wife is the family CFO in 51 percent of the households. So, the wife is making more money and she’s responsible for the family finances. Yet the husband is listed as the primary taxpayer. Ridiculous, but true.

Why is this happening? Tradition, for one thing. The forms ask for taxpayer and spouse and people still tend to think spouse means wife. The issue goes beyond tax forms.

Home mortgages

Buying a home? The Uniform Residential Loan Application asks for “borrower” and “co-borrower,” so it’s wonderfully generic. Now, look at your home loan. Who’s listed as the borrower and who’s the co-borrower? If your hubby is on first, that’s not unusual. And yet, how often is a man called a homemaker?


“Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Smith” remains the envelope standard according to Emily Post, even if the envelope contains a wedding invite from your college roommate, a woman your husband has never met. According to The Knot, “Mr. Sam and Mrs. Shelbi Smith” is also acceptable. In that scenario, women are still second, but they have a name.

Joint bank accounts

You, as the wife, might be putting more money into that savings account. But did you list his name first? Interestingly, this naming convention may be resolving itself. According to a 2018 Bank of America study, 28 percent of millennial couples keep their finances separate, compared to 11 percent of Gen Xers.

Marriage licenses

This could be the root of the problem. If you’re married, pull out the official license. Chances are, the groom is listed first. There he is: in richer, in poorer and in first place. Think that changed with the legalization of same-sex marriage? Think again. For example, in Jackson County, Mo., the revised form reads: “Groom’s/ 1st Party Name:” and “Bride’s/2nd Party Name:” Yep. This is how we’re grooming the next generation.

The “first” phenomenon doesn’t have to last

The good news? There’s always time to be a trendsetter. While some forms – such as those above-mentioned marriage licenses – are gender specific, others are not. It’s up to us to determine who’s on first.

That means we need to think, not just fill out forms the way our parents and grandparents did.

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