March 27, 2019 Print

The Ukrainian Economic Freedoms Foundation (UEFF) reduced taxes by creating a policy engagement and video campaign that helped viewers understand how taxes impact their lives.  By turning taxes into a menacing, dark-suited character who looms over the lives of an ordinary family and forcibly takes a share of every transaction, UEFF’s video made it clear that the tax burden affects everyone. This video (which can be viewed here) reached almost 2 million people.

Alongside the video, UEFF also developed concrete policy changes to improve the tax structure. A large slate of changes was adopted by the government, including the elimination of some taxes, caps on agricultural subsidies, and streamlining some payment and reporting processes.

Personifying the tax burden in their video was a crucial element in UEFF’s success. In Ukraine, taxation is done outside of the public eye—which is why taxes have been largely unnoticed by the general public. Payroll taxes are paid by employers, and sales tax is included in the prices that consumers see in stores.

“This leaves Ukrainians completely clueless about the size of taxation and their impact on incomes,” said Maryan Zablotskyy, co-founder of UEFF. “So we produced a short video that showed how much is actually deducted from every salary and purchase.” Making taxes personal and showing UEFF’s viewers why they should care about how much of their money was going to taxes ultimately led to reform.