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Yours, Mine, or Ours: Tax-Related Decision Responsibility of Married Couples

Advances in Taxation

ISBN: 978-1-78441-120-6, eISBN: 978-1-78441-119-0

Publication date: 18 November 2014



Examine tax-related decisions of married couples to determine whether decisions are made jointly or if one spouse dominates the decision. We also examine characteristics related to decision styles.


Questionnaires completed independently by both the husband and wife.


Nearly 40 percent of the couples make tax decisions jointly, while the remaining couples allow one spouse to dominate tax-related decisions. The results indicate that when one spouse dominates the decisions, it is most often the wife. We also find that couples are more likely to share tax-related decision responsibility jointly when the husband earns significantly more than the wife, when the couple has greater income as a family, and when they are a new couple.

Research limitations/implications

Prior research has generally not recognized tax decisions by married couples as a joint decision or attempted to determine whether tax decisions are dominated by the husband or wife. This issue has implications for interpreting research results in light of prior research that has found that tax-related decisions vary significantly by gender. The finding that many couples make joint decisions suggests that an interesting avenue for future research would be to determine the nature of that joint decision making and whether it is collaborative, bargaining, or something else.


Prior research on tax-related decisions has not recognized that for approximately 40 percent of tax returns filed, the unit of study is not a single individual but a married couple.




The authors would like to thank the editor (Toby Stock), two anonymous reviewers, and participants of the Accounting, Behavior & Organizations research conference, the Northeast regional meeting of the AAA, the Northeastern University research seminar as well as Diana Falsetta, Anne Schnader and Tracy Noga for helpful comments on previous versions of the paper.


Fischer, C.M., Rupert, T.J. and Wartick, M.L. (2014), "Yours, Mine, or Ours: Tax-Related Decision Responsibility of Married Couples", Advances in Taxation (Advances in Taxation, Vol. 21), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 139-172.



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