If you’re worried about your taxes going up this year, there’s something you may want to keep in mind. A recent study found that paying more taxes actually makes people happier. That’s from a 25-year survey that found that a person’s life-satisfaction increased in lock step with their tax rate. And get this: the people who reported being happiest were the ones who shelled out the most to the taxman! Why? Economists think there are several reasons:
Higher taxes mean more services. Roads are better maintained, the government can support more cultural events and schools get more funding. So, ultimately, people enjoy the things their tax dollars buy.
We’re wired to pay our fair share. A study in the journal Psychological Science found that when we believe something is unjust, it activates the part of our brain responsible for negative emotions. And that’s true even when we’re on the winning side of an unfair deal. Why? Because we feel guilty when we feel like we’re gaming the system, which makes us enjoy our successes less.
Even when we complain about government waste, we know that some of our taxes go to help others, which makes us less resentful of the taxes we have to pay. In fact, researchers at the University of Oregon found that people who were forced to donate to a good cause had as much activity in the brain’s pleasure centers, compared to people who donated willingly.