A Spoonful of Choice: How Allocation Increases Satisfaction with Tax Payments.

Lamberton (2013)
Summary by 
Mark Egan

The author argues that the low volitional and collective nature of tax-funded benefits are primary causes of low satisfaction with tax payment. Three studies suggest that providing people with the opportunity to allocate some of their tax payment (here, 10%) across budgets provided by the billing party introduces (i) volition into the payment process and (ii) increases the perceived benefit associated with tax payment. The authors find that as a result, taxpayers are significantly more satisfied with paying taxes, despite the fact that their payment amount remains completely unchanged.In addition to enhancing taxpayer satisfaction, an allocation program, if well-implemented, could also provide some hope for correcting existing lack of voice, address disconnects between spending and taxpayers’ priorities, and increase civic engagement in general.