How to Get Relief from “Tax Relief”

As with so much about framing, I learned about tax relief from George Lakoff. Though it’s only two words long, it says a lot. As he explains in a 2003 interview:

Taxes: Burden or source of pride and expression of patriotism?
Taxes: Burden or source of pride and expression of patriotism?

The phrase “Tax relief” began coming out of the White House starting on the very day of Bush’s inauguration [in 2001]. It got picked up by the newspapers as if it were a neutral term, which it is not. First, you have the frame for “relief.” For there to be relief, there has to be an affliction, an afflicted party, somebody who administers the relief, and an act in which you are relieved of the affliction. The reliever is the hero, and anybody who tries to stop them is the bad guy intent on keeping the affliction going. So, add “tax” to “relief” and you get a metaphor that taxation is an affliction, and anybody against relieving this affliction is a villain.

The whole interview deserves reading.

He proposes a different way of thinking of taxes: as the dues we pay to be Americans and to enjoy the freedom, privileges, and infrastructure that comes from paying the dues. Although I used to resent paying income taxes, this viewpoint completely changed my view of taxes, and the more Framologists frame taxes properly, it will change many others’ perspective.

Dr. Lakoff explains tax relief in this video. The first part introduces framing, and the discussion of tax relief begins at 3:20.

Another way to think of taxes came from a financial advisor’s lecture. He said he’s glad to pay more in taxes because it means he made more money than last year! Why shouldn’t paying taxes be a source of pride?

How do you think Framologists should frame taxes?

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2 thoughts on “How to Get Relief from “Tax Relief””

  1. Like you, I underwent conversion regarding taxes. It happened when I was helping my mother with her finances. I realized that her annual draw from Social Security was almost exactly equal to the amount I was paying in self-employment taxes. I figured it was another way to help support her as she grew older.

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