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Tax Literacy Project
Money from taxes helps every person every day, but polls show most of us do not understand anything about our taxes. Studies show that most Americans are ignorant about general concepts, like the difference between a deduction and a credit; about their own tax situation, including what tax bracket they are in; and about the law. Many people believe the taxes they pay are unfair. And many do not understand why taxes exist.
Why should we bother learning about taxes?
Tax ignorance costs each of us money. Many of us pay more tax than we actually owe. Also, tax ignorance makes it hard to discuss and enact sound tax policies, we are not able to raise money in the fairest and most efficient manner possible.
Why do we need taxes?
Taxes support democracy.
Taxes fund government services and goods, including court systems and national defense, which protect your life, your property, and your constitutional rights.
Taxes support economic growth.
Governments use taxes to encourage economic growth in numerous ways such as maintaining a stable currency, enacting and enforcing laws that protect both workers and employers (their life and property), and helping to build and maintain large and dependable energy, transportation and communication systems.
Taxes support your daily quality of life.
Taxes help you and your family buy a house, breathe clean air, have safe food and drugs, and travel safely and efficiently on highways, trains, and planes. Taxes help pay for your health care (in the form of tax benefits or direct care) and they pay to educate you and your family. Taxes help you at work (e.g. enforce contracts, provide safe workplace) and help you at play (e.g. national parks).
Become part of a solution to the problem of tax ignorance:
Contribute to the Tax Literacy Project.
What is the Tax Literacy Project?
The Tax Literacy Project, based at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and headed by Professor Marjorie E. Kornhauser, aims to informally educate the public about basic aspects of taxation in 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)
Basic concepts of taxation (e.g. marginal rates versus effective rates and credits versus deductions).
Information, games and videos are currently being developed and will be available soon on its Web page.
Can you support the Tax Literacy Project regardless of your political outlook?
Yes, the Project's only purpose is to help provide information about tax, not to support any particular type or amount of tax. No matter what kind of government people want, that government will cost money. Americans must understand how that money can be fairly and efficiently raised.
How can you make a charitable contribution?
Make your donation payable to the Tax Literacy Fund at
Make your check payable to the ASU Foundation and mail to the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Arizona State University, PO Box 877906, Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
Please write Tax Literacy Fund (30004788) in the memo line of your check.
All funds will be deposited with the ASU Foundation, a separate non-profit organization that exists to support ASU. Your payment may be considered a charitable contribution. Please consult your tax advisor regarding the deductibility of charitable contributions.
Thank you in advance for your interest and support.
For more information or to become involved, please contact the Project Director:
Marjorie E. Kornhauser, Professor of Law
Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Arizona State University