Taxlandia Project Summary

Source: Topos Partnership, March 2016

Is a balanced, constructive and engaged dialogue around government revenues and budgets possible?
The Topos Partnership set out to answer this question in a major, multi-state project … Working nationally, with a special focus on the states of Colorado, Kentucky, Washington, and Wisconsin, we explored Americans’ current thinking and discourse through ethnographic interviews, a media review, a national survey, and other research methods to identify cultural understandings, uncover patterns in discourse, and assess the effectiveness of a range of communications approaches.

Our analysis points to a conclusion that many may find surprising. Americans are not rigidly anti-tax. Instead, default ways of thinking and gaps in understanding predispose conversations around the country to the seemingly self-evident idea that lower taxes are always better. To build support for adequate, sustainable revenues, advocates must recognize these defaults, create new connections, and fill gaps in understanding.

While the task is by no means simple, we see an opportunity for a cultural shift in Americans’ thinking about taxes and spending that will result in a more balanced, constructive, and less reflexively negative stance on this topic.