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

Forthcoming (2013), Journal of Public Policy and Marketing

50 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2012 Last revised: 18 Jun 2012

Date Written: June 5, 2012


How can tax payment be made more satisfying? This paper argues that the low volition and collective nature of tax-funded benefits as primary causes of low satisfaction with tax payment. Three studies then suggest that providing individuals with the opportunity to allocate a small portion (in the present research, 10%) of their payment across budgets provided by the billing party both introduces an element of volition into the payment process and increases the perceived benefit associated with tax payment. 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.

Keywords: taxes, satisfaction, allocation, tax choice, psychology, reactance

Suggested Citation

Lamberton, Cait Poynor, A Spoonful of Choice: How Allocation Increases Satisfaction with Tax Payments (June 5, 2012). Forthcoming (2013), Journal of Public Policy and Marketing. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2078599 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2078599

Cait Poynor Lamberton (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Marketing Department
Philadelphia, PA
United States

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