Political Economy

The Effects of a Tax Receipt

Jun 21 '11

Over at YouGov’s Model Politics, I have a post on what happens when people view a tax receipt.  A tax receipt is just a record of the programs on which the government spends tax revenue.  The concept has gained a lot of currency (no pun intended), and given many Americans’ lack of knowledge about the federal budget, I was curious whether viewing a tax receipt would change their views of taxation or the budget.  The post reports on a small survey experiment that I conducted in May 2011.  Here is a summary of what I found:

bq. A tax receipt may be a valuable reform, even if it does not change how Americans feel about their taxes or how they might attempt to cut the budget deficit. Nevertheless, it is perhaps surprising that the receipt had such small effects in this experiment, given how little many Americans know about how the government spends its money.

More details and graphs at the post.