Friday, September 27, 2019
Larry Zelenak (Duke) presents “We Will See That You Are Troubled Right Along”: Women and the Politics of the Early Federal Income Tax at Boston College today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Jim Repetti, Diane Ring, and Shu-Yi Oei:
This essay tells the stories of three women who, in the early years of the federal income tax, claimed significant roles in tax policy debates by focusing on the intersection of the income tax and policy issues in the female sphere. In chronological order of their contributions, they are: Helen M. Bent, who critiqued the treatment of married women in the bill that became the 1913 income tax; the leading suffragist Anna Howard Shaw, who shortly after enactment of the 1913 income tax urged passive resistance to the tax by unfranchised women; and attorney Martha Connole, who in 1927 explained to the Ways and Means Committee how the income tax rules were unfair to single women. Shaw was famous during her lifetime and remains well-known today, but neither Bent nor Connole was ever famous, and both are all but forgotten today.
As this essay aims to demonstrate, both were impressive women–in Connole’s case, maybe even extraordinary–and well worth remembering.