Ep. 34: The politics of tax evasion

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Tax evasion costs the United States hundreds of billions of dollars every year.

But for some Americans, hiding income from the government is about more than keeping every possible penny they earned for themselves. It’s also a form of political protest.

In a paper in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, authors Julie Berry Cullen, Nicholas Turner, and Ebonya Washington investigate whether attitudes toward government cause Americans to evade paying personal income taxes.

They found that when a new president entered office, taxpayers in counties on the opposite side of the political aisle appeared less willing to share their earnings with the government.

Conversely, those who were politically aligned with the new president were more trusting of how their taxes would be spent.

Cullen and Washington spoke with Chris Fleisher about the challenges of researching tax evasion, the importance of public trust in government, and the implications of their findings in a hyperpolarized time.

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