My Taxes are Too Darn High: Tax Protests as Revealed Preferences for Redistribution

129 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2020

See all articles by Brad Nathan

Brad Nathan

The University of Texas at Dallas - Naveen Jindal School of Management

Ricardo Perez-Truglia

University of California, Berkeley; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Alejandro Zentner

The University of Texas at Dallas - Naveen Jindal School of Management

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 12, 2020

Abstract

In all U.S. states, individuals can file a protest with the goal of legally reducing their property taxes. This choice provides a unique opportunity to study revealed preferences for redistribution. We study the motives driving tax protests through two sources of causal identification: a quasi-experiment and a pre-registered large-scale natural field experiment. We show that, consistent with selfish motives, households are highly elastic to their private benefits and private costs from protesting. We also find that social preferences are a significant motive: consistent with conditional cooperation, households are willing to pay higher tax rates if they perceive that others pay high tax rates. Lastly, we document significant differences between the motivations of Democrats and Republicans.

Keywords: taxes, protest, appeal, preferences for redistribution, conditional cooperation

JEL Classification: C93, H26, K34, K42, Z13

Suggested Citation

Nathan, Brad and Perez-Truglia, Ricardo and Zentner, Alejandro, My Taxes are Too Darn High: Tax Protests as Revealed Preferences for Redistribution (September 12, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3691361 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3691361

Brad Nathan

The University of Texas at Dallas - Naveen Jindal School of Management ( email )

P.O. Box 830688
Richardson, TX 75083-0688
United States

Ricardo Perez-Truglia (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Alejandro Zentner

The University of Texas at Dallas - Naveen Jindal School of Management ( email )

P.O. Box 830688
Richardson, TX 75083-0688
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
39
Abstract Views
152
PlumX Metrics