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Plural pos­ses­sives?

The cost of this cleanup will likely be placed on tax­pay­ers and ratepay­ers shoul­ders, despite the fact that

Should tax­pay­ers and ratepay­ers be pos­ses­sive? Alternatively, can I just leave out shoulders?

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  1. You have two choices:

    1. The cost of this cleanup will likely be placed on tax­pay­ers’ and ratepay­ers’ shoul­ders … (this is called the gen­i­tive case, accord­ing to Chicago Manual of Style 5.19)

    2. The cost of this cleanup will likely be placed on tax­pay­ers and ratepayers …

    Whether to choose #1 or #2 depends on the writer. One writer might pre­fer brevity, while another might choose a touch of drama.

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