Big majority of Americans, including most Republicans, say their income taxes are fair


THIS is kind of counterintuitive, isn’t it?

An excerpt:

Sixty-two percent of all respondents in the poll said the income tax they have to pay is fair, while 30 percent called it unfair. That includes six in 10 Republicans and independents and just over two-thirds of Democrats – a display of cross-party agreement rarely seen on any topic. It also includes most liberals, moderates and conservatives.

Majorities across all income groups, moreover, called their income tax fair. Sixty-two percent of Americans in households earning $50,000 or less said so, as did the same percentage of people in households earning more.

Perhaps even more surprising, though, is that even among the 18 percent of Americans who say they support the Tea Party Movement, more than half call their own income tax fair.



  1. Neftali

    Why is it surprising that Tea Party people say their tax is fair? What they don’t want to see if a repeal of the Bush Tax Breaks. And they certainly don’t want to see a Democrat-induced VAT tax….but its coming….

    As far as everyone else goes, when 1/2 the people don’t even pay Federal Income tax of course they are going to say that is “fair.”


  2. I think my income tax is fair right now too. Unfortunately with the path we have been set upon and with all of the un- or underfunded federal state and local liabilities headed our way, income taxes (and taxes in general) will have no choice but to increase to unfair and economically damaging levels.

  3. According to Gallup, 48% of Americans say their taxes are too high, with only 45% saying their taxes are about right…


  4. I wonder how much our local tea party leader raised for Russo Marsh and Rogers? http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/joe_conason/2010/04/14/teaparty

  5. echo4charlie

    Who asked? My guess is that it wasn’t the government.

    Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the 17th-century French minister of finance, once remarked that “the art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.”

    Many Americans are already hissing loudly, but the plucking in earnest is only beginning. Starting in January 2011, “the rich”—defined by President Obama as individuals earning more than $200,000 and families earning more than $250,000 per year—will see their marginal tax rate rise to 39.6% from 35%. Their effective tax rate will increase even more as certain credits and deductions are phased out.

    Meanwhile, projections from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center showed that 38% of Americans were expected to have had zero or negative federal individual income tax liability in 2009, before the stimulus was enacted. After President Obama’s budget, stimulus, and other tax changes, this proportion will increase to nearly 46% in 2011, all while the federal government grows in size.
    .The president’s rationale? He wants to create what he calls “a sense of balance and fairness in our tax code,” as he said on the campaign trail, and ensure that well-off Americans “pay their fair share.” He famously defended his planned tax hikes to “Joe the Plumber” by saying, “I think when you spread the wealth around it’s good for everybody.”

    If you think spreading money around by force seems like an odd definition of fairness, you’re not alone. A 2009 survey conducted by the polling firm Ayers-McHenry asked respondents to choose which of the following statements came closer to their views: “Government policies should promote fairness by narrowing the gap between rich and poor, spreading the wealth, and making sure that economic outcomes are more equal”; or “Government policies should promote opportunity by fostering job growth, encouraging entrepreneurs, and allowing people to keep more of what they earn.” Respondents chose the second option over the first, 63% to 31%.

    Most Americans think tax rates are already unfairly high. A February 2009 Harris poll found that on average, Americans believe the maximum amount anyone should have to pay in total taxes is less than 16% of income. The Tax Policy Center notes that families earning $75,000 and above are paying more than this in federal taxes alone; the highest income earners pay much more.

    Nor do Americans believe it is fair to expand the pool of people with no income tax liability at all. According to a Tax Foundation poll in April 2009, 66% of Americans agree with the statement that “Everyone should be required to pay some minimum amount of tax to help fund government.” People understand that good citizenship means we all contribute in some way to the national project.

    Simple facts about our tax system do not support the contention that it is “unfair” in favor of the rich. According to the most recent IRS data, the top 5% of earners bring in 37% of the income but pay 60% of the federal individual income taxes. The bottom half of earners bring home 12% of the income but pay 3% of the taxes. Today, according to the Tax Foundation, 60% of Americans consume more in government services than they pay in taxes.

    In sum: A large majority disagrees with the current administration’s redistributionist philosophy; believes the rich already face a tax rate that is too high; and disapproves of the fact that more and more Americans pay nothing in federal income taxes. So why do arguments like the president’s persist?

    The answer is that nobody wants to sound anti-poor, so we too easily concede the notion of fairness to those who define it as redistribution and criticize redistribution only because it leads to economic inefficiency.

    This is an error. There is nothing inherently fair about equalizing incomes. If the government penalizes you for working harder than somebody else, that is unfair. If you save your money but retire with the same pension as a free-spending neighbor, that is also unfair.

    Real fairness, as most of us see it, does not mean bringing the top down. Yes, free markets tend to produce unequal incomes. We should not be ashamed of that. On the contrary, our system is the envy of the world and should be a source of pride. Generation after generation, it has rewarded hard work and good values, education and street smarts. It has offered the world’s most disadvantaged not government redistribution but a chance to earn their success.

    That is true fairness, American-style.

  7. Orlando Clay

    I paid $652.76 LESS in taxes this year, and I didn’t even have to vote Republican. (As if I ever would go to that extreme.)

    THANK YOU, President Obama!! This is exactly the type of CHANGE I voted for.

  8. Liberty or death

    Whoever put the title on this article should be fired. It does not reflect the arguments in the body at all.

  9. Who is trying to block the extension and why do they say they want to block it?

    How long are unemployment benefits currently granted? What is the maximum time period that we should extend them?

    Are you aware that the longer we extend benefits the longer people stay unemployed? Are you aware that some people will not begin hunting for a job in earnest until their benefits are close to running out?

    [8]See David Card and Phillip B. Levine, “Extended Benefits and the Duration of UI Spells: Evidence from the New Jersey Extended Benefit Program,” Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 78 (1-2) (October 2000), pp. 107-138; Lawrence Katz and Bruce Meyer, “The Impact of the Potential Duration of Unemployment Benefits on the Duration of Unemployment,” Jour­nal of Public Economics, Vol. 41, No. 1 (1990), pp. 45-72; Stepan Jurajda, “Estimating the Effect of Unemployment Insur­ance Compensation on the Labor Market Histories of Displaced Workers,” Journal of Econometrics, Vol. 108, No. 2 (2002), pp. 227-252; John T. Addison and Pedro Portugal, “How Does the Unemployment Insurance System Shape the Time Profile of Jobless Duration?” Economics Letters, Vol. 85, No. 2 (November 2004), pp. 229-234; Alan B. Krueger and Bruce D. Meyer, “Labor Supply Effects of Social Insurance,” in A. J. Auerbach and M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Econom­ics, First Edition, Vol. 4 (2002), pp. 2327-2392; and Rafael Lalive, Jan Van Ours, and Josef Zweimüller, “How Changes in Financial Incentives Affect the Duration of Unemployment,” Review of Economic Studies, Vol. 73, No. 4 (October 2006), pp. 1009-1038.

    [9]Alan B. Krueger and Andreas Mueller, “Job Search and Unemployment Insurance: New Evidence from Time Use Data,” IZA Discussion Paper No. 3667, August 2008, p. 11, at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1261452 (November 13, 2008).

  10. “Hey Doc. Guess who won’t be voting Republican TeaBag’r in the upcoming Congressional Elections this November ?”

    I don’t know, who?

    You mean me, because they passed the doc fix? That was no great leap, that was a foregone conclusion and everyone new it. That was only removed from Obamacare to make it look close to being fiscally neutral, which it won’t be. If they wouldn’t have passed it now, the system would have melted down quickly this year instead of slowly over the next 5 to 10.

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