Richard Lavoie


Given the rise of the tea party movement, which draws strength from the historical linkage between patriotism and tax protests in the United States, the role of patriotism as a general tax compliance factor is examined in light of the extant empirical evidence. The existing research suggests that patriotism may be a weaker tax compliance factor in the United States than it is elsewhere. In light of this possibility, the tea party movement has the potential to weaken this compliance factor even more. Further, when considered in light of the broader tax morale factors that contribute to tax compliance, the tea party movement also poses a risk of destabilizing the social contract framework that underlies our established taxpaying ethos. In order to strengthen the impact of patriotism on tax compliance and lessen any adverse impact of the tea party movement on the country’s taxpaying ethos, the government should take steps to disentangle American patriotism from its anti-tax roots. Important first steps in this regard are outlined in this Article, including the creation of a voluntary “Patriotic Remittance Tax.” Making such changes will strengthen the bond between taxpayers and the government and help promote a vision of American patriotism that is positively associated with taxation rather than antithetical to it.

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