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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Atttitudes Toward Taxes

Our chapter on economic policy discusses issues surrounding the tax code, including fairness and complexity. The Pew Research Center reports:
Public dissatisfaction with the tax system has grown over the past decade, and the focus of the public’s frustration is not how much they themselves pay, but rather the impression that wealthy people are not paying their fair share.
The number of Americans who feel they pay more than their fair share in federal taxes has dropped significantly over the past decade, from 55% in 2000 to 38% today. About half (52%) now say they pay the right amount in taxes. Yet at the same time, fewer see the overall tax system as even moderately fair (43%, down from 51% eight years ago), and roughly six-in-ten (59%) say that so much is wrong with the tax system that Congress should completely change it.
This sense of unfairness centers on the perception that wealthy Americans are not paying their fair share of taxes; 57% say this is what bothers them most about the tax system, while half as many (28%) point to the complexity of the system, and just 11% say that the high amount they have to pay is what bothers them the most.
Republicans and Democrats agree on the need for tax reform; majorities across party lines see the system as unfair and in need of a complete overhaul. Yet they differ substantially in their concerns, with Democrats overwhelmingly pointing to the share wealthy people pay as the biggest concern, while many Republicans identify the complexity of the system as the biggest problem