What Do People Really Think About Taxes?

The common perception of Americans is that they hate taxes and will do everything they possibly can to avoid paying them, or at least minimize their burden. However, as it turns out, most Americans actually do not hate them, instead considering them to be an important civic responsibility. We’ve certainly seen this in our work as a trusted tax service in Des Moines, IA.

Vanessa Williamson is the author of the book Read My Lips: Why Americans are Proud to Pay Taxes. According to Williamson, “Americans have demonstrated again and again that they are really quite willing to pay taxes when they know where their money is going and they think it is a good use of the money.”

One key piece of evidence for her position is a survey conducted by the IRS that indicates that more than 90 percent of Americans say paying their fair share of taxes is a civic duty. That’s a remarkable level of consensus for a question with a national scope, and it’s also not the only data point that suggests people do not necessarily hate paying taxes.

Another researcher, Tulane University economics professor James Alm, focuses on tax compliance, tax evasion and so-called “tax morale,” what he calls an “attempt to measure one’s intrinsic motivation to pay taxes.”

There’s a certain rate at which economists predict most people would pay their taxes based primarily on the likelihood of getting caught and subsequently punished for failure to make their payments. In the United States, more people pay taxes and fewer people cheat than what is suggested based on these national predictions. In fact, Alm’s research has shown that Americans have the highest “tax morale” of any developed nation in the world.

Why is this? It’s difficult to say, but there’s a possibility that because the United States places such a strong emphasis through its institutions on doing the right thing and obeying the law, more people are willing to be compliant with taxes.

However, through a turbulent tax time with many different reforms to the tax code, Alm says the nation’s tax morale can only remain high if the changes are perceived as being fair.

Get help filing your taxes

Of course, just because Americans are okay with paying their taxes does not mean they enjoy it, particularly when it comes time to actually performing the calculations and filling out all the necessary paperwork. For this reason, tax preparation services still are extremely busy every tax season assisting their clients with their tax returns.

No matter how much money you make and how many deductions you qualify for, you can benefit from the assistance of a skilled tax preparation professional, especially if you have little to no desire to do the preparation work yourself. If you’re interested in learning more about the work we do at our tax service in Des Moines, IA and how we can help you through the stresses of tax season, we encourage you to contact Accounting & Tax Professionals, PLC today for more information. We look forward to working with you!

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