University of Pittsburgh
March 15, 2011

Pitt Marketing Professor Discusses in Journal Article How Government Can Overcome Negative Public Opinion Associated With Paying Taxes

Cait Lamberton’s article published in Democracy, now on newsstands
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—It’s no secret that many people dread tax season. In the spring 2011 issue of the journal Democracy, University of Pittsburgh faculty member Cait Lamberton explores ways of getting Americans to look more favorably on paying taxes and suggests offering U.S. residents a greater hand in how their tax dollars are spent. 

In the article, Lamberton, Fryrear Faculty Fellow and assistant professor of marketing in Pitt’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration, collaborates with Charles A. Lamberton, a Pittsburgh civil rights attorney, to suggest offering tax choice, which would allow taxpayers to allocate a percentage of their income taxes to any portion of the discretionary federal budget. 

“In a tax choice program, a taxpayer who wishes to support public education, for example, could send some of her income tax dollars specifically to that part of the federal budget, while a taxpayer who feels strongly about the military could allocate a portion of his income tax payment accordingly,” the authors explain in the article. 

The idea of allowing tax choice would address one of the biggest reasons that Americans psychologically hate paying taxes, say the authors—when making their payments, taxpayers don’t see what they are getting in return. Tax choice also addresses a second major psychological objection to taxes—Americans generally do not like being told what to do. 

Results of Cait Lamberton’s behavioral research on the efficacy of tax choice suggest that permitting taxpayers to allocate even a small percentage of their income taxes to the programs of their choice generates significant increases in taxpayer satisfaction. 

“Tax choice enables individuals to compete more effectively with moneyed interests in policymaking,” says Cait Lamberton. “The politics of tax choice are appealing as well, drawing on both libertarian and conservative themes of individual empowerment and agency, as well as the progressive belief in good government. Tax choice would resonate across a broad political spectrum and directly engage citizens in the administration of the republic.” 

Cait Lamberton earned her MBA and PhD degrees from the University of South Carolina. 

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3/15/11/tmw/lks

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