Are federal tax breaks sexist?

New report suggests men fair better under current system
March 7, 2019

Study calls for comprehensive review of federal tax policy in Budget 2019

OTTAWA — Analysis of federal tax breaks released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) suggests that men are capturing the majority of benefits from tax deductions, credits and loopholes.

The new report assesses the portion of benefits currently going to men compared to women from 45 federal tax expenditures (tax deductions, credits, breaks and loopholes), and finds that only eight (19%) pay out greater amounts to women than men. Introducing different priorities and programs could leverage the tax and transfer system to play an important role in enhancing after- tax gender equality.

“Addressing the gender pay gap and advancing gender equity have been stated priorities of the current government, but little attention has been paid to how the tax system may be reinforcing disadvantages,” says study author and CCPA Senior Economist David Macdonald. “Simply put, federal tax breaks are sexist, with men faring much better than women under the present system.”

Among the study’s findings:

The top five largest tax breaks that benefit men most are the employee stock option deduction, foreign tax credit for individuals, spouse or common law partner credit, registered retirement saving plans and pension income splitting;

The top five largest tax breaks benefiting women most are the eligible dependent credit, child care expense deduction, medical expense tax credit, pension income credit and age credit;

In some cases, men captured more than 100 per cent of the benefits from certain loopholes (implying a tax increase for women);

The report echoes this year’s Alternative Federal Budget in calling for a comprehensive review of Canada’s expensive and ineffective tax expenditures.

“Compared to program spending, Canada’s myriad of tax breaks, credits and loopholes remain critically under-examined part of public policy,” says Macdonald, adding that he hopes to see action towards a comprehensive tax policy review in the upcoming March 19 federal budget.

“Tax breaks that are not serving their purpose, exacerbate inequality or fail to promote gender equity should be closed and the substantial lost revenue should be put to better use.”


Are Tax Loopholes Sexist? The gender distribution of federal tax expenditures is available for download on the CCPA website, alongside Alternative Budget 2019. For more information contact Alyssa O’Dell, CCPA Media and Public Relations: 613-563-1341 x307, or cell 343-998-7575.