The Secret Pleasure of Paying Taxes

According to brain scans, paying taxes is a pleasurable experience for many people.

Nineteen female university students were given $100, and told that some of this money would have to go towards taxes. Each volunteer read 60 taxation scenarios ranging from $0 to $45 in taxes, knowing that one of these amounts would be selected at random and subtracted from their money.

As they read the scenarios, their brains were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Scientists saw a spike in the activity of two of the brain's reward centers, the nucleus accumbens and caudate nucleus.

It was theorized that the taxes may have caused pleasure because they were perceived as going to help others, so the experiment was then repeated with voluntary scenarios related to charitable donations rather than taxation. The charity donations provided an even greater boost in brain reward center activity.

Researchers were in fact able to predict generosity based on their brain response to paying taxes. The 10 subjects who showed the greatest brain activity in response to hypothetical taxes in the first part of the study chose to donate more money in the second part. They gave an average of $17 to charity, compared to an average of $10 for the other 9 subjects.

Science June 15, 2007

New Scientist June 14, 2007


Dr. Mercola's Comment:

Surprisingly, people may feel more positively about paying taxes than they generally admit. Of course, most people find voluntarily giving money to charity a more rewarding experience than mandatory taxation.

Personal income tax, however, may be far less necessary than most people have been led to believe. You might want to listen to presidential candidate Dr. Ron Paul speak eloquently on the practical possibility of abolishing the income tax and the IRS, as well as eliminating the U.S. Federal Reserve in order to restore real money, rather than printing more as we run out and calling it inflation.

However, it certainly is true that people enjoy giving to others. If you want to increase your enjoyment of life, helping others is certainly a good start. Remember that you can donate not only money but your time as well. But please, wherever you choose to donate to, do your homework first to make sure your donation is being used wisely.

And, if you're looking for even more tips to "trigger" your brain's pleasure centers, check out
10 Steps to Being Happier and Healthier.

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