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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Giftaid - institutionalized discrimination?

17 replies

SuchProspects · 11/01/2011 21:04

I've been meaning to sign up for a few groups for a while and was nudged to action by the If you had to choose a feminist org to join...? thread.

But while I was signing up I was struck by the giftaid statement they encourage you to sign up for. Since I currently stay at home looking after kids while my husband brings in the cash, I'm not technically paying tax under my own steam. So when I sign up for something, paying with the (taxed) money my husband has brought into our household I don't seem to be able to giftaid. While my husband, using the same money, would be able. This would seem to put non-working partners (i.e. generally women) at a disadvantage.

Is there a loophole that allows me to be as valuable (money wise) to a charity as my husband is? Or is this structural discrimination?

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everythingchangeseverything · 11/01/2011 21:23

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SlightlyTubbyHali · 11/01/2011 21:27

I can't see how it is discriminatory. You can't have a tax break unless you pay tax. Income tax relates to individual incomes, not couples (and just as well - that would be kind of weird if we had to merge our tax affairs with those of our husbands).

Hulababy · 11/01/2011 21:32

I don't think this is discriminatory at all. Gift aid relates to an individual's tax. If you don't pay income tax then you can't claim gift aid.

SuchProspects · 11/01/2011 21:52

It's not discriminatory in the sense that if our roles were reversed I would be the one whose donation would be more valuable to charity. But it is discriminatory in the sense that it is yet another way that women end up with slightly less power in the world because of the way roles we are more likely to take up play out in other areas of civil society.

I'm not sure why it would have to be "weird" to merge your tax (though that's not necessarily what I'm advocating for, and certainly not enforced merging). My financial interactions with the government are already dependent on my husband's financial status (e.g. I can't claim benefits because of what he earns). And all the money goes into one pot. But at the moment, if he writes a cheque to his favorite charity it's worth 25% more to that charity than if I do. I don't see how that's just.

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everythingchangeseverything · 11/01/2011 21:53

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huddspur · 11/01/2011 21:57

Its not discrimination, income tax is paid on an individual basis. From HMRCs point of view it is his earnings and his tax payments not yours so you can't get a tax break on it.

SuchProspects · 12/01/2011 07:41

Of course it's because I'm not paying tax and he is - that's the point. I'm talking about the way outcomes are institutionalized in a way that favors men. The way we as a society set things up so that, once again, women tend to do less well given the choices that are generally made.

I know that this isn't the most earth shattering unfairness. But I'm a little disappointed that on the feminism board there isn't a single response that comments on structural unbalance (even if it disagrees with me).

When a couple distribute labour the way we have (which is not uncommon and which tends to leave women and not men in the position of technically being the tax payer) should the person who is doing the unpaid work find their spending power impacted to a greater extent than the person who is working for pay?

It's not like the money being given has been taxed less. From HMRC's point of view the money has been taxed to the same extent. Why should they insist that my spending it lead to a lesser outcome for a charity than him spending it?

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SuchProspects · 12/01/2011 07:42

err, ahem...Tends to leave men and not women in the position of...

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Goblinchild · 12/01/2011 07:48

If you choose to rum your household along traditional lines, that is your decision.
My Oh didn't pay tax for five years because he was earning under the threshold, so he couldn't giftaid either. I could and did.

PandaG · 12/01/2011 07:56

my DH writes the cheques or whatever to charity as we are in the same set up as you - I work, but earn under the tax threshold so cannot giftaid.

our money pot is joint, and we agree on which charities to support, so it is no big desl for me that he writes the cheque to ensure the charity gets the most money possible.

I really don't think you can claim discrimination here, more women would be up in arms if their family income was merged for tax purposes.

bronze · 12/01/2011 08:05

I can kind of see you point. Women generally earn less and are the ones who tend to take a career break to do the childcare because of biology so immediately they are set up to pay less tax. (generalisation)

I just sort the payments out in his name and tell him hes doing them.

karmakameleon · 12/01/2011 08:54

I see the problem here as not the fact that gift aid is not transferable and puts women on the whole at a disadvantage, although I do see what you are saying. The issue is that women on average have less income than men. That's what needs to be resolved rather than fiddling with things like gift aid.

StewieGriffinsMom · 12/01/2011 09:40

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SuchProspects · 12/01/2011 09:50

Panda - I see your point about more women being disadvantaged if family income was merged. I've recently come back from a decade in the USA where you can choose to file jointly or separately, which seemed to accommodate choice a bit better. There may be other disadvantages to that that I'm not aware of though. Would it really be necessary to merge tax affairs totally in order to even this out though?

Karma - Women earning less in general is a problem (and a far more important one), but solving that would still leave those who choose to be unpaid carers at a disadvantage in this matter.

On the whole I don't really agree with gift aid philosophically, though from a pragmatic point of view if it encourages giving to charity sufficiently I support it. I guess I am smarting a little at some of the culture shock I'm facing returning to the UK after so long and becoming a parent for the first time. I had kind of dismissed a lot of the "un-family friendly" stuff I'd been reading, but I was, perhaps, naive.

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StewieGriffinsMom · 12/01/2011 10:00

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SuchProspects · 12/01/2011 21:53

SGM - glad I'm not on my own! The USA system is good in allowing you to choose to file jointly etc. if you've decided to run a household by having one person stay home. But I didn't think it was very good for lowest paid, who don't have much to gain anyway, and rarely have access to the expertise needed to make the best of their situation.

How does the Canadian system work?

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StewieGriffinsMom · 12/01/2011 23:32

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