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Kornhauser presents paper at Stanford

January 06, 2009

Professor Marjorie Kornhauser, of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, recently presented a paper on tax compliance and educating the public at Stanford Law School.

Kornhauser's research focuses on the intersection of federal income taxation and society, and explores the philosophical, social, political, gendered and historical aspects of taxation. Her paper, titled "Tax Compliance and the Education of John (and Jane) Q. Taxpayer," also appeared in the Nov. 10 edition of Tax Notes.

It concludes:

"A recent letter to the editor in The New York Times, in response to an editorial called 'Empty Talk on Taxes,' stated that '[a] campaign is needed to persuade the public that it can't have valued programs without paying for them, any more than one can purchase for free clothing or toothpaste.' Trust in government goes in cycles. FDR and the New Deal deepened people's faith in government. This trust began to wane in the 1960s and continued in a downward spiral with the Reagan Revolution of the 1980s.
"Perhaps the cycle is turning as people increasingly look to the government for solutions to problems both large (for example, foreclosures on their homes) and small (the safety of their dinner salad). The idea that government intrusion into daily life is bad is beginning to give way to an acknowledgment that sometimes government involvement is necessary and good. For example, as outbreaks of widespread food contamination increase, many people – including Democratic and Republican congressmen – are recognizing that government regulation is 'essential' to food safety. Even President Bush's Health and Human Services Secretary has requested increased funding for the Food and Drug Association to ensure that safety. That funding must ultimately come from taxes and it is time for people to make the connection between taxes and how they live. They must recognize not just the necessity of taxes but their positive effects: A fair tax is not slavery but the price of American democracy."

Judy Nichols,
(480) 727-7895
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law