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Nationwide flags gender differences on tax code changes

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Women are less likely than men to expect that tax code changes will yield a significant decrease in household income or asset value, according to a new research.

Nationwide Financial, Columbus, Ohio, published this finding in a summary of results from an online survey of 751 mass affluent investors. Conducted by Harris Interactive, the survey finds that understanding of tax advantaged solutions like annuities, life insurance and 401(k) plans varies among demographic groups.

Just 16 percent of the women polled foresee a decrease in household income or asset value stemming from tax code changes. This compares with nearly one in three (31 percent) of the men surveyed.

The research also reveals that women are less likely than men to have met with a financial advisor to talk about how new taxes may impact their portfolio. Only one in twenty have done so at the time of the survey (5 percent women vs. 13 percent men).

Additionally, half of female survey respondents (52 percent) say they are somewhat or very concerned that changes to the tax code will negatively impact their portfolio compared to seven in 10 male respondents (69 percent) who believe so. Women in the Nationwide survey also express less confidence than male respondents that they completely understand the tax advantages of annuities (17 percent vs. 27 percent), life insurance (23 percent vs. 34 percent) or 401(k) plans (38 percent vs. 52 percent).

Middle-aged survey respondents (ages 35-54) are less likely than those older to say they completely or somewhat understand the tax advantages of annuities (56 percent vs. 73 percent), but are twice as likely to consider purchasing another tax-deferred product (31 percent vs. 14 percent). This group of respondents is more likely than those who are 55 or older to want more education on annuities (51 percent vs. 37 percent), life insurance (23 percent vs. 14 percent) or 401(k) plans (30 percent vs. 17 percent). Middle-aged respondents, the research adds, are less resistant to making portfolio adjustments, with only about one third (31 percent) saying they won’t make any portfolio adjustments as a result of new taxes compared to nearly half (45 percent) of respondents 55 or older.

Respondents with $150,000-$249,000 in income appear more optimistic and receptive to making portfolio adjustments. More than half (52 percent) believe changes can be made to prepare their portfolio for tax code changes, compared to just 36 percent of all survey respondents.

Half (50 percent) of respondents with $150,000-$249,000 in income want more education on annuities, compared with 41 percent of the total survey population.