An article written by Professor Marjorie Kornhauser about the new Tax Literacy Project at the College of Law was published in the Fall 2009 edition of the ABA Tax Section Newsquarterly.
Kornhauser, the project's director, writes that, according to a 2009 H&R Block survey, most Americans "fail tax 101." People are ignorant about general concepts, their own tax situation, the law, and why taxes exist.
"Tax ignorance harms individuals and the nation as a whole," writes Kornhauser, noting few opportunities exist for the average person to learn about taxation. "Lack of understanding frequently causes frustration, even hostility."
The Tax Literacy Project, launched in May 2009, will use popular media to informally educate young adults about basic aspects of taxation. It will focus on the development of a Web site and the technical design of online activities (such as games, contests and videos) which people will engage in during their leisure time. The project will focus on the federal income tax, but much of the content will be applicable to other federal, state, and local taxes.
It will include information on three distinct, but overlapping, areas: Why we have taxation (the purpose of taxes; the connection between taxing and spending); Fairness of taxation (how to distribute the burden of taxation, including choice of tax base and rate structure); and Basic concepts of taxation (e.g. marginal rates versus effective rates and credits versus deductions).
To find out more about the Tax Literacy Project, click here.
To read the ABA article, click here.
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. She enjoys helping students learn about this intersection and understand the more technical aspects of taxation.