CNBC Survey: American Millionaires Say 'Tax Us More, Please!'

Wednesday, 07 May 2014 07:11 AM

By John Morgan

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Most wealthy Americans support the idea of paying higher taxes in order to reduce inequality, according to CNBC's Millionaire Survey.

The study found 51 percent of 514 U.S. millionaires surveyed believe inequality is a major issue for society, and almost two-thirds are in favor of paying more to the government and of a higher minimum wage in order to narrow income inequality.

Most American millionaires are note ashamed of their own wealth, and credit their hard work, smart investing and savings habits for their financial status, the CNBC survey found.

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"They also believe that anyone in America can get wealthy if they work hard," CNBC said.

But they also think that family and cultural issues hold some Americans back, thus they support improved education, higher taxes on the wealthy and better savings incentives for lower-income individuals.

Multimillionaires — those worth $5 million or more — were more likely to cite "running my own business" as their top secret to financial success.

Women were three times more likely to say inheritance was their top wealth factor (15 percent vs. 5 percent for men), while men were more likely to credit savings (20 percent vs. 14 percent for women).

Most of the millionaires surveyed (78 percent) said the wealthy have better access to education, and that improved educational opportunities may prove the best way to reduce inequality.

Democratic millionaires were far more in favor of taxing the rich and raising the minimum wage. Among Democratic millionaires, 78 percent supported higher taxes on the wealthy, and 77 percent were in favor of a higher minimum wage. That compared with 31 percent and 38 percent, respectively, for Republicans.

Last week, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) advocated an overhaul of the tax system in developed economies to stem income inequality.

The OECD called for abolishing deductions and exemptions that favor high earners, taxing forms of remuneration such as stock options in the same way as wages and raising real estate taxes, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The OECD also called for a review of inheritance taxes, and concluded ways to tax income from capital in the same way as income from work should be examined, the Journal said.

"Without concerted policy action, the gap between the rich and poor is likely to grow even wider in the years ahead," said Angel Gurria, the OECD's secretary-general. "Therefore, it is all the more important to ensure that top earners contribute their fair share of taxes."

A separate survey by the Pew Research Center found most Americans believe economic inequality has grown in recent years, but there was no consensus whatsoever about what has caused it.

Among the responses to Pew about the cause for the rise in U.S. income inequality were: "Obama and Democrats, Bush and Republicans, the education system, the capitalist system, the stock market, banks, lobbyists, the strong/weak work ethic of the rich/poor, too much public assistance, not enough public assistance, over-regulation, under-regulation, the rich having more power and opportunity, the rich not spending enough, and simply 'a lot of greedy people out there,'" Pew noted.

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