Welcome to Talking About Budgets and Taxes – a toolkit compendium of research on how Americans think about budgets and taxes, and how to increase public support for policies that support reforms to the budgeting process and tax system. As explained in in the budgets and taxes values research report, Ounce of Prevention1:

"The twinned processes of allocating money and setting tax rates are central to governance. In a nation as complex as the United States, even the most expert can be forgiven for not understanding these processes to their full extent. How much harder is it for ordinary citizens to do the same?"

The research reported here indicates that it is quite a bit harder. But effective communications can help engage the public in understanding budgeting and taxation, and improve support for progressive policy alternatives. The MessageMemo explains and interprets the research findings, and the Applications provide front-line communicators with essential tools for deploying the evidence-based framing strategies reported in the Memo.

This toolkit was developed by the FrameWorks Institute for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. Additional funding for the research informing this toolkit comes from Demos and Kansas Action for Children.

Message Memo


This section provides a variety of framing tools intended to help advocates understand and apply the research findings and recommendations on how to talk about education reform.

Key Framing Guides


1. Simon, Adam. (2010). An Ounce of Prevention: Experimental Research in Strategic Frame Analysis™ to Identify Effective Issue Frames for Public Budgeting and Taxation Systems. Washington, D.C.: FrameWorks Institute.