Why is our tax system so complicated? Teachers have long relied on educational cartoons with catchy songs to simplify everything from grammar to government. Can a cartoon conquer a challenge like today’s tax system, with its ever-changing, 75,000 pages of laws? With retro flair, "Taxation Nation" looks into how our tax system does – and doesn’t – work.
Directed by Jessica Yu
Producer: Jessica Yu
Lyrics by Timothy Steele and Jessica Yu
Music by Jeff Beal
Tax Guy: Phil LaMarr
Taxpayer Gal: Maria Bamford
Animation Produced by Six Point Harness
Executive in Charge of Production: Brendan Burch; Dave Vamos
Head of Production: Andy Fiedler
Creative Director: Greg Franklin
Producer: Nicholas Butera
JESSICA YU is a director of both documentaries and scripted films, in a variety of genres. She won an Oscar for Best Documentary Short for "Breathing Lessons", a film about Mark O’Brien, a poet confined to an iron lung. Her recent films include "Misconception", a documentary about world population which premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, and "Last Call at The Oasis", an award-winning chronicle of the water crisis, both for Participant Media, and "The Guide", a short documentary about Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park. Her feature comedy debut "Ping Pong Playa" premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and was released by IFC Films. Her documentaries include "Protagonist", "In The Realms of The Unreal", and HBO’s "The Living Museum" and the shorts "Meet Mr Toilet" and "The Kinda Sutra", all of which premiered at Sundance. Yu also directs television shows; her credits include Scandal, The West Wing, Parenthood, Grey’s Anatomy, and ER. She also directs spots with Nonfiction Unlimited.
“To be honest, the thought of making a short film explaining the tax system made my temples throb. Cover the origins and complexities of our National Headache in under five minutes? Oy. Then I remembered how I learned about such grown-up concepts when I was a kid: Schoolhouse Rock made everything from grammar to government into a catchy, easy-to-digest tune. But could that kind of jaunty simplification work on something as convoluted as today’s U.S. tax system? Well, if not, that would be a statement in itself.
I was lucky to gather a Dream Team on this film, and we had a blast creating an animated musical that had our characters navigating the ever-changing ‘tax highway.’ Our goal was to make the refrain as stick-in-your-head as any Schoolhouse tune. You have been warned!”
Is this a fair tax system? Companies pay up to 10% tax while many workers pay over 25%. Workers subsidise the rich.