American Government and Politics

Collecting Their Fair Share: Information, Values, and Public Support for the Internal Revenue Service

Authors

Abstract

In democracies, policy ambitions hinge upon governments’ ability to collect tax revenue from their citizens. Ongoing funding cuts at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) undermine the U.S. government’s ability to fulfill this function. Yet, despite its central importance, funding for IRS enforcement activities has received scant scholarly attention, limiting our understanding of the factors that underlie public attitudes on this issue. In this article, we report the results of pre-registered experiments that test whether citizens’ attitudes regarding the IRS can be shaped by framing efforts. Specifically, we test both information-based and value-consistent frames that invoke partisans’ core ideological concerns. Results show that these frames significantly increase public support for the IRS, as well as citizens’ willingness to learn more and become politically active. Thus, to ensure state capacity, information about the consequences of IRS under-funding and appeals to partisans’ ideological concerns can be implemented to increase support for tax collection.

Content

Thumbnail image of Anson_Kane_Collecting_Their_Fair_Share_Feb2022.pdf

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