Thursday, January 27, 2011

Seen versus Unseen Taxation

While taxes may provide some goods which are commonly valued to cities, states, or nations they also provoke visceral reactions from swathes of the population. Public opinion polls reveal 48% of Americans believe taxes are too high. Surprisingly this is not linked to income (Here is a link to the Gallup Poll Data).

Negative attitudes towards taxation appear to stem from lack of consent and the confiscatory nature in which public funds are obtained. But, despite the existence of negative attitudes toward taxation there has been a drop in the disapproval of taxation. I cannot help but think, "What if people knew how much tax they were paying?" Since so many taxes are automatically withheld I wonder how people would behaviorally respond to writing an explicit check for money to the government?

I'm thinking of some different strategies to analyze how reactions change when taxation is seen as opposed to unseen.

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