Washington and Lee law professor Michelle Drumbl published a commentary in Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Tax Opinions. The volume is published by Cambridge University Press and edited by Bridget J. Crawford and Anthony C. Infanti. Feminist Judgments is a series featuring key judicial decisions on issues of gender and justice, written applying feminist methods and theories.
Professor Drumbl contributed commentary on Cheshire v. Commissioner, 282 F.3d 326 (2002) and responds to another contributor’s feminist critique of the decision. Her discussion focuses on the the court’s interpretation of 26 U.S.C. § 6015 which provides an avenue for relief from joint and several tax liability under certain circumstances, known as “innocent spouse relief.” Professor Drumbl describes how the Code’s incentives for married couples to file jointly rather than separately can interject (or exacerbate) an uncomfortable power dynamic in the marriage if there is a significant earning disparity between the spouses.