Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2009

Keywords

taxation, tax policy, legislation

Subject Category

Law | Legislation | Tax Law

Abstract

This essay examines some of the difficulties of understanding public opinion on taxes, and offers some suggestions as to how the conscientious legislator might proceed in light of those difficulties. The essay begins by describing two contexts in which public opinion appears to contradict itself, and suggests how the apparent contradictions might be resolved. It then offers three suggestions for the conscientious legislator whose goal is to discern (rather than to manipulate) public opinion on taxes - to be neither unduly optimistic nor despairing about the potential for educating the public on tax policy issues, to understand and guard against the manipulation of public opinion by those with particular tax policy agendas, and to be guided by opinion surveys which give the public a range of policy options rather than forcing a choice between two polar positions.