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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Americans Are Unclear on How Many Pay No Income Tax

At NPR, Danielle Kurtzleben reports on a new NPR-Ipsos poll:
Two-thirds of Americans believe lower-income people pay too much income tax (with heavy partisan differences — around 8-in-10 Democrats, 6-in-10 independents, and half of Republicans agreed with that statement). In addition, 60 percent of Americans believe taxes should be lowered for people making $49,000 or less (again, with Democrats and independents being somewhat more likely than Republicans to say those taxes should be lowered).

Taking these two ideas together — that people (mistakenly) think very few of their fellow Americans pay zero federal income tax, and that a majority of Americans think low-income people pay too much in income tax — there are a couple of possible conclusions.
One is that if more Americans knew how many others do not end up paying federal income taxes, they would say tax rates should stay the same or even be raised.
Then again, it's possible that Americans nevertheless would think their poorest fellow citizens do need more money, regardless of how the current tax code looks. That might mean they would advocate expanding the EITC or other tax breaks.