Income tax, taxable compensatory benefits, inequalities in inheritance… In tax law too, women are sometimes wronged. MP Marie-Pierre Rixain will table a bill on March 8 to try to restore the balance. Interview.
Income tax, inheritance, taxation of compensatory benefits paid after a divorce… Gender inequalities are also hidden in our taxes and social benefits. This is revealed in a recent, very detailed report by the Observatory for the economic emancipation of women (1), created jointly by the Fondation des Femmes and the Crédit Municipal de Paris.
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Clearly: the French tax system, like that of social benefits, which are still too often based on the joint income of the couple, mainly disadvantages women, who often have the lowest salary. It makes them pay more taxes and tends to keep them in a form of dependence on their spouse – like those women who prefer to stay part-time to avoid the couple’s taxes increasing.
Hence the bill that the LREM deputy for Essonne Marie-Pierre Rixain will table on March 8. A symbolic date, on which she already presented, in March 2022, a first key text for the economic autonomy of women. This “Rixain law” notably introduced quotas for female leaders and requires companies with more than 1,000 employees to appoint, among the 10% most senior positions, 30% women in 2027, 40% in 2030. One year later, Marie-Pierre Rixain now tackles tax inequalities.
Miss Figaro. – In what way is tax a strategic field for women?
Marie-Pierre Rixain. – Recognizing women as economic subjects in their own right, autonomous and capable of contributing to creating growth, implies recognizing them as autonomous fiscal subjects. Taxation, which governs our living together on a macroeconomic scale, has a microeconomic impact on individuals, couples and the distribution of wealth between women and men. I am not naive: I am aware that our tax law has been built over the years, and that the proposals I am defending will not resolve all gender inequalities. But a tax system is a tool at the service of societal choice. The President of the Republic defends a society of equality. Our taxation must therefore be renewed according to this objective that we have set ourselves.
Starting with the implementation of an individualized default tax rate…
It is an indispensable measure, on a macro and microeconomic scale. Micro, because we know very well that the personalized rate, common to the couple, increases the tax rate of the spouse with the lowest income by six points on average, and reduces the one who receives the highest salary by thirteen points. It’s crazy and very unfair. It can be changed, but the custom rate is applied by default. Making the individual rate automatic therefore seems essential to me. Including at the macroeconomic level: because it encourages women to work more, the use of the individualized rate would increase their rate of participation in the labor market by 0.6 points, or nearly 80,000 additional jobs. It is therefore essential for our businesses and our growth.
What about compensatory benefits, subject to income tax?
These benefits are intended to redress income inequality during cohabitation and its consequences on separation. Keep in mind that a woman’s income level decreases by 22% after a divorce, compared to 2% for a man’s. However, the benefits are indeed taxable when they are paid more than twelve months after the judgment, or in the form of an annuity. This is not the case if the sum is paid within twelve months of the judge’s decision. However, there is no reason for the terms of payment to puncture the amount received by the beneficiary, it is not understandable.
This is also the case for alimony. Why not carry out a similar reform?
They are indeed based on the same logic, but I have not included them in my bill for two reasons. First, child support is paid for the benefit of the children, not the ex-spouse. It therefore does not aim to repair income inequality within the couple. Then, other legislative vehicles are already addressing the issue of support payments.
In March 2022, Emmanuel Macron promised to review the taxation of cohabiting couples, to allow them “to reduce their taxes as if they were married or in a civil partnership”. To the detriment of women, one might add. Doesn’t that go against your text?
I am absolutely not in favor of it, because it leads to conjugalization even more, where I defend a greater individualization of income and tax. On the other hand, I know that several measures in my bill have already caught the attention of Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne.