For some Americans, the tax system isn't just about economic interests. It's a question of morality.
Middle-class Americans view income tax as a symbol of moral injustice that is connected to exploitation and a loss of personal freedom, according to a recent study in Symbolic Interaction. After conducting 24 semi-structured interviewers with small business people in the South, researchers Jefferey Kidder of the Northern Illinois University and Isaac William Martin of the University of California, San Diego found that the respondents used moral and not economic arguments when discussing the tax system.
The respondents "associated taxation with a violation of the principle that hard work should be rewarded," according to the study.
Still, the study's findings may not apply to all middle class Americans. The researchers used a relatively small sample size and pulled respondents from only one region. But the small business owners polled for the study aren't alone in voicing grievances against the American tax code. A growing number of Americans are dissatisfied with the country's tax policies, believing now more than ever that other Americans aren't paying their fair share.
Even those who are getting a break have alleged that the American tax system is unfair. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett penned an op-ed in The New York Times in August noting that he pays taxes at a lower rate than many of his employees. The piece inspired in part an ultimately failed proposal from President Obama bearing Buffett's name that aimed to increase minimum tax rates on millionaires by up to 30 percent.
As for the participants in Kidder and Martin's study , they say a simpler tax code would combat the problem of tax evasion and make the system more fair.