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Americans Take Pride in Paying Taxes

Forget the conventional wisdom.  Americans overwhelmingly take pride in paying their taxes, recent IRS Oversight Board survey data show.

Our country’s tax system functions largely on a voluntary basis, albeit with significant third party information and a backstop of enforcement.  Its proper functioning, therefore, depends on a high level of civic duty and responsibility, and that’s exactly what exists.  Some 94 percent of Americans believe it’s their civic duty to pay their fair share of taxes.

In a piece in The Atlantic, Vanessa Williamson highlighted some interview anecdotes that hint at the reasons behind these strong survey results:

  • A 28-year-old from Utah: “It feels good to contribute.”
  • A former Marine: “[It’s] the cost of being an American.”
  • A woman from Kansas: “[T]he country has to be taken care of.”

Beyond the pride of fulfilling a fundamental civic obligation, Americans can take pride in where their tax dollars are going (see herefor state tax dollars and here for federal), whether it’s to pay for health care for an elderly person, a soldier’s gear, diabetes research, or helping a working class kid go to college.  As one woman from Florida told Williamson, “maybe my little bit of money that I’m putting in is paying somebody else’s Social Security or Medicare.”