This Tax Day, 55% of Americans regard the income taxes they have to pay as fair, the lowest percentage Gallup has measured since 2001.
The results are based on Gallup's Economy and Personal Finance poll, conducted April 4-7, and annually since 2001. The recent high in Americans' perceptions that their taxes were fair, 64%, came in 2003, after President Bush signed tax cuts into law and weeks after the Iraq war began.
Gallup's history of asking this question stretches back to the 1940s. From 1943 through 1945, during World War II, few Americans complained about their taxes, with an average of 87% of Americans saying their taxes were fair. That dropped down to an average of 61% in 1946, the first year after the war.
Gallup resurrected the question in the late 1990s, when an average 48% said their income taxes were fair, including the historical low of 45% in 1999. Americans' views of their taxes as fair improved from 51% in 2001 to 58% in 2002, shortly after the Bush administration put into place a round of tax cuts.
Perceptions of income tax fairness, perhaps surprisingly, vary little by household income level. Fifty-seven percent of those whose annual household income level is below $75,000 say their taxes are fair, as do 54% of those whose income is $75,000 or above.
In fact, there are no notable differences by most major demographic groups. The biggest differences are based on political affiliation, with Democrats and political liberals much more likely than Republicans and conservatives to believe their taxes are fair.