Warm and Fuzzy Feelings…About Taxes?

“Want to know how your federal taxes are spent?“

The White House sent me an email yesterday morning with this intriguing subject line. It was titled, “Your 2013 Federal Taxpayer Receipt.” I opened it and clicked the link to a calculator tool that asked me to enter a few pieces of information. This would allow me to receive “a breakdown of how your tax dollars are spent on priorities like education and veterans benefits.”

The calculator is visually appealing and easy to use. I simply need to enter my 2013 tax payments in highlighted fields and click the “calculate your receipt” button. A table assigns a percentage of total income tax to various categories such as “Health care” and “International Affairs.” When I hover over or expand categories, more information appears. Should I not have my tax information handy, I can select from a predetermined list of Income Estimates.

Providing information about tax dollars in an easy-to-understand, interactive format was a smart move by the White House to promote goodwill. I noted several ways the White House messaging team has carefully crafted this tool, for instance, the order in which categories are listed. While listed roughly in order of percentage spent, I noted that “Health Care” was listed below the “National Defense” line item, although it’s a slightly larger spend. The Income Estimates available on this drop down are not comprehensive, but limited to four options. The highest total tax that can output from these choices is $10,460.00.  This tool provides transparency, yes, but careful thought was put into both how much transparency and how the information was presented.

Every online interaction is a chance to either further a positive relationship or frustrate. Because this calculator is well designed, it leaves guests with a positive impression of how taxes are spent. What makes this tool successful is its strategy, timeliness, catchy call to action and visual design. These four principles can help organizations communicate about a variety of issues. As an example, we created a gas pricing calculator for a client during a summer surge in gas prices. We used this to call attention to obscure financial regulation that promised to save customers cents on every dollar. The catch? Consumers weren’t seeing any savings at the pump. Suddenly, this niche issue had mass appeal.

The calculator tool I used yesterday may or may not change minds about how much we should be taxed or where those dollars should be spent, but through digital strategy, the White House framed this conversation in a positive way.

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Warm and Fuzzy Feelings…About Taxes?

“Want to know how your federal taxes are spent?“
The White House sent me an email yesterday morning with this intriguing subject line. It was titled, “Your 2013 Federal Taxpayer Receipt.” I opened it and clicked the link to a calculator tool that asked me to enter a few pieces of information. This would allow me to receive “a breakdown of how your tax dollars are spent on priorities like education and veterans benefits.”
The calculator is visually appealing and easy to use. I simply need to enter my 2013 tax payments in highlighted fields and click the “calculate your receipt” button. A table assigns a percentage of total income tax to various categories such as “Health care” and “International Affairs.” When …

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Digital Advocacy

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