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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Ideology and Perception of Taxes

Frank Newport at Gallup:
Our analysis, as we have seen, shows modest support for the hypothesis that views of one's income tax burden directly reflect what one pays in taxes. When we turn to ideology, however, we find significantly more powerful relationships -- including a 26-percentage-point difference between conservatives' and liberals' perceptions that their income tax is too high (58% of conservatives say it is, compared with 32% of liberals) in Gallup's most recent data, from 2021. Similar ideological differences are evident in views of the fairness of one's taxes. (And Gallup's recent review found almost identical differences between Republicans and Democrats.)

Thus, many Americans answer this question about their taxes based on their underlying ideological views of the concept of taxes in general and/or their views of the taxes others pay. This is not surprising, given that much research shows that Americans' ideology -- along a conservative-to-liberal spectrum -- appears to be a fundamental factor in determining their views on much that goes on around them across a variety of social, cultural, economic and personal dimensions. (Why some people end up being conservative and some liberal is itself the subject of much research, including some provocative suggestions that ideological differences reflect underlying genetic differences1.)