May 7, 2008
More on heteronormative familial-economic arrangements
This post on income splitting at The Hand Mirror is a darn good read. It’s an analysis of income splitting, which is a “remedy” for the unfairness brought on by this scenario:
Family A, a family with two working adults each earning $40,000, pays less tax than family B, in which one adult earns $80,000 and the other adult stays at home to look after the kids. Each family has the same gross earnings, but the single earner’s larger income places him in a higher tax bracket. This is unfair, Dunne believes: where a parent (usually mum) has given up paid work for childcare, her family should not face a financial penalty.[…] Income splitting seems to recognise the value of women’s unpaid work, and the fact that it supports men to do their paid work. So what’s wrong with this picture?
The critique asserts:
Although families A and B earn the same, things are not equal between them. Family B spends only 40 hours a week in the workforce to make $60,000, whereas Family A spends 80 hours. The extra time available to family B makes a huge difference to its quality of life. Both Mum A and Mum B have domestic work to do, but Mum A begins hers after she knocks off from her paid job each day. Noticeably absent from Dunne’s plan are solo parent families. Solo mums bear lone responsibility for all the paid and unpaid work in their households, but have no one to split incomes with, so cannot receive any tax relief. Income splitting is less about recognising women’s unpaid work than about shoring up traditional nuclear families in the face of increasing solo parent, blended and gay families and whanau.
This is a great critique, as those who stand to benefit the most are those who replicate the ideal, gender-normative and heteronormative family.