What do people think of taxation? Evidence from a focus group study in England

Prabhakar, Rajiv (2012). What do people think of taxation? Evidence from a focus group study in England. Journal of European Social Policy, 22(1) pp. 77–89.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0958928711425266

Abstract

The design of tax systems is an important topic as governments reshape taxes to reduce public sector deficits following the global financial crisis. This article discusses findings from a focus group study on public attitudes to taxation in England. It uses rational choice and moral arguments to explore three questions. What do the public think of different taxes? How do people react to different combinations of taxes? What are public attitudes towards public spending? This article demonstrates that people’s stage in life affects attitudes to taxation. The most unpopular tax among older people is inheritance tax whereas it is fuel duties for younger respondents. Taxes associated with personal choice (such as Value Added Tax) attract more support than income tax. People also want greater transparency about the benefits of tax systems. The results show that principles are important for shaping public attitudes to taxation and that policy-makers should consider how diverse forms of taxation combine over the life-cycle when designing a tax system.

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