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Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Gamage: The Future of Tax Salience Scholarship

David Gamage (UC-Berkeley), On the Future of Tax Salience Scholarship: Operative Mechanisms and Limiting Factors, 41 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 173 (2013):

This Essay — written for Florida State University’s symposium on the 100th anniversary of the federal income tax — evaluates how the literature on tax salience should be advanced in order for it to better guide tax policy over the coming decades. The literature on tax salience analyzes how taxpayers account for the costs imposed by taxation when the taxpayers make decisions or judgments, both in the taxpayers’ roles as voters and as market participants. This Essay evaluates both possible operative mechanisms that might underlie observed tax salience effects and limiting factors that might prevent tax salience effects from materializing in real-world policy contexts.

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Tax salience writing exhibits nearly complete disregard for the principle of honesty in taxation. Sneaky tax law begets sneaky taxpayers. It's not as if our tax system, let alone our government, has too much respect from the public and needs to reduce it.

Adding more stealth taxes may gain revenue in the short run, but I'm convinced that it will cost revenue later. That's the topic I'd like to see the tax salience writers address. Gamage touches on this in his very last subsection on page 199, but he needs to write more.

Gamage alone could steer this field of study in a new direction with some papers on the importance of public perception that tax law is designed honestly and that it treats taxpayers fairly. I recommend that he begin by reading the book "Tax Cheating" by Donald Morris. That book's premise is that cheating is a two-way street.

Posted by: AMT buff | Feb 27, 2014 8:49:05 AM