Women at a Times of Malta event were encouraged to move away from traditional societal constraints and become financially independent after the tax department finally made it possible for spouses to file separate revenue declarations.

Charmaine Tanti, EY senior tax consultant noted that spouses now have the option to submit separate income tax returns.

Married taxpayers who would like to submit separate computations need to apply for this option. If they do not, even though they already declare separate incomes, they will still receive a joint tax declaration form. And, in most cases, the joint tax form is sent in the husband’s name as men are automatically considered the ‘responsible spouse’.

Online tax declarations can be submitted until the end of July.

Tanti, who has been working in the industry for nearly 15 years, told Times of Malta that as personal tax advisor, most of her clients are male. This was not because women lacked interest in financial matters, but more so because of the local cultural mentality.

“In fact, several of my male clients are accompanied by their female partners. However, in Malta the prevalent mentality sees a man handling a family’s financial matters. This is also reflected in the revenue department’s default assumption that men are the ones who should be responsible for income matters.

“And despite recent tax computation changes that would make women more financially independent, I haven’t seen an uptake by women as much as I expected to. I would love to see more women taking an active role when it comes to finances and taxes – this is one way of fighting for better equality,” she said, adding that financial independence could also help fight against some forms of domestic violence.

She noted that people – irrespective of their gender – should be aware of their financial affairs: “just as a person needs to stock up on their groceries, maintain their car, and keep abreast of other daily necessities, they need to take care of their financial matters”.

People – irrespective of their gender – should be aware of their financial affairs- EY senior tax consultant Charmaine Tanti

Tanti was speaking to Times of Malta during Pink’s first Money Talks lunch party, which brought together women from all walks of life and experts in finance. She briefed the audience about tax-efficient benefits, personal taxation requirements with a focus on married people and parents, as well as specific tax exemptions and additional benefits that women may be entitled to.

Tezara Saliba ‒ one of the attendees and a teacher by profession ‒ noted that basic skills such as filing tax returns should be taught at school at basic, secondary levels.

EWS Trustees director Patrick Spiteri and Adrian Vella, Head – Investment Network at MeDirect Malta, also addressed the audience.

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