This AEI Public Opinion Study, a compilation of polls on taxes conducted over the past 80 years, is one of the most comprehensive collections of polling data ever compiled on the subject. In many areas, public opinion on the topic has changed little. Available in this study, these trends paint a distinct, although nuanced, picture of what Americans think about taxes. How much do Americans dislike paying taxes? Are some taxes more burdensome than others? How much will taxes matter in the 2016 election?
- An important problem? When pollsters ask about the most important problem facing the country, “taxes” ranks very low, with around 1 percent volunteering that response (Gallup). When Pew asked in January about priorities for the president and Congress, 45 percent said “reforming the nation’s tax system” was a top priority; 75 percent (the top response) said the economy and, separately, terrorism were each a top priority.
- Important in 2016? Few pollsters have asked people how important taxes will be to their vote this November. In four questions asked this year, taxes once again ranked low among people’s priorities. To take just one, in Kaiser’s poll, taxes ranked 7th of 12 issues.
- Federal income tax: People are not overly concerned about how much they pay in federal income taxes. Forty-two percent say what they pay is fair, while 51 percent say it’s too high (Gallup).
- Too much? Too little? People’s responses to whether different groups pay too much, too little, or the right amount have varied little over the years. For 11 years, a strong majority have said corporations pay too little. They also feel that way about upper-income people, but less strongly than they did about 25 years ago (Gallup). In recent years, a majority have said they pay about the right amount (Pew).
- Redistribution: The National Opinion Research Center has consistently found that most people place themselves in the middle when asked whether government should reduce income differences between the rich and the poor by raising taxes on wealthy families or giving income assistance to the poor. In 2014, 46 percent chose points 3–5 on a scale of 1–7; 32 percent said government should do this (points 1–2), and 22 percent said the government should not (points 6–7).
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Monday, April 18, 2016
Opinion on Taxes
Karlyn Bowman writes at AEI: