What Makes Taxes Seem Fair?

Research Report

What Makes Taxes Seem Fair?

March 28, 2017

Abstract

What makes people perceive their taxes as “fair”? We worked with the news website Vox to produce a short quiz about tax knowledge, which we used to test whether drawing readers’ attention to certain aspects of the tax code changed their opinions about the fairness of their own taxes. We found that receiving tax information did change reader’s opinions, but those changes were more substantial when participants were encouraged to think about how tax policy affects lower-income people rather than how it affects higher-income people. Several intriguing hypotheses, each worthy of additional research, follow from this demonstration.

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