Peterson Foundation Launches Tax Day Awareness Campaign

Apr 8, 2009

"Owen & Payne" Tax Prep Firm Personalizes Americans' Share of Government's Debts through New Website, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON, DC (April 9, 2009) — The Peter G. Peterson Foundation today launched a multi-platform online awareness campaign spotlighting the federal government's $56.4 trillion in financial obligations and unfunded promises. Timed to tax season, the campaign features comedic fictional tax-preparation firm "Owen & Payne" and mock tax "Form 483000" to illustrate the $483,000 that is each U.S. household's share of these debts and commitments.

"Owen & Payne was created to help alert Americans in a light-hearted way to a critical problem: the $56.4 trillion federal financial burden that young people and future generations are inheriting," said Peterson Foundation President and CEO Dave Walker. "Through this campaign, we hope to show Americans that this real national debt affects each and every one of us. Every American household bears a $483,000 burden, or $184,000 per person, on top of his or her actual taxes."

In a series of humorous online videos, Owen & Payne advertise their services to help taxpayers fill out their "Form 483000." These videos are featured on the new website, The Foundation’\/s campaign also makes extensive use of online and social media outlets to pitch the firm's "services" on popular sites such as Facebook Fan Pages, Twitter feeds, and YouTube channels.

Since its July 2008 launch, the Peterson Foundation has continued to use innovative ways to bring attention to the serious issue of the real national debt. Other outreach efforts have included the acquisition and promotion of "I.O.U.S.A.," a nonpartisan documentary about America's perilous fiscal status; online outreach that has engaged 170,000 supporters through e-mail; an ongoing collaboration with MTV's college network mtvU on InDebtEd, an awareness campaign using an online video game, music videos, and on-the-ground activities; and a popular Twitter feed that tracks the national debt.

The partners of Owen & Payne are played by brothers Todd Stone and Adam Stone of comedy duo "Stone and Stone." The two have performed at comedy clubs and theaters throughout New York City, including Gotham Comedy Club, Caroline's, The Laugh Factory, 59E59 Theaters, and The Triad. They were recently featured in a national Verizon FiOS commercial, and NBC's "Last Comic Standing."

Launched in July 2008, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation raises awareness of, and sees solutions to the fiscal challenges posed by the rising costs of health care and retirement and a near-zero household savings rate. To address these challenges successfully, the nonpartisan Foundation works to bring Americans together to find sensible, long-term solutions that transcend age, party lines and ideological divides. The Foundation also distributes the critically acclaimed feature documentary I.O.U.S.A., which tells the story of the rapidly growing national debt and its consequences for the U.S. economy.

Myra Sung
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