On the Future of Tax Salience Scholarship: Operative Mechanisms and Limiting Factors

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This Essay — written for Florida State University’s symposium on the 100th anniversary of the U.S. 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.