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Gallup Poll: Most Americans Think Their Taxes Are Too High

By Sandy Fitzgerald   |   Monday, 14 Apr 2014 10:54 AM

With Tax Day just one day away, more than half of Americans say their federal income taxes are too high, according to a new Gallup Poll — and more Democrats than Republicans think their taxes are fair.

Gallup reports that 52 percent of the 1,026 adults participating in a random telephone survey held from April 3-6 said their federal income tax is too high, with 42 percent saying it was about right.

The current 52 percent is down slightly from 55 percent a year ago, but still, the percentage of people who say their taxes are too high has been at around 50 percent since about 2003. Before 2003, Americans were much more likely to say their taxes were too high, but income-tax cuts passed during former President George W. Bush's administration in 2001 and 2003 changed their minds.

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Before Bush was president, as many as 69 percent of Americans believed their taxes were too high, and about 25 percent thought their taxes were just right.

Out of those surveyed this month, Democrats were the only group in which a majority, 55 percent, said their taxes were "about right," but most Republicans and independents said their taxes were too high.

In addition, 69 percent of the Democrats polled said their taxes are fair, compared to 46 percent of Republicans and 51 percent of independents.

The patterns were largely consistent with Gallup results from last year, but markedly different from before President Barack Obama took office. For example, in 2006, 47 percent of Republicans and 47 percent of Democrats said they thought their taxes were too high, as well as 50 percent of independents.

Upper-income Americans are also more likely to believe their taxes are too high. Six out of every 10 Americans who earn $75,000 or more believed their taxes were too high, as compared to fewer than half of Americans who are at middle or lower-income families. Most of the families earning less money, though, consider their taxes fair.

The slight increase of Americans who think their taxes are too high may reflect an actual increase in taxes. The Bush-era tax cuts expired recently, eliminating some deductions while increasing taxes, particularly hitting upper-income Americans.

The increase may also reflect growing discontent with the federal government, Congress, and Obamacare, which is tied into the tax system.

Meanwhile, very few Americans have described their taxes as being too low. In the 60 years Gallup has been conducting its tax poll, at most only 4 percent of Americans have complained that they don't pay enough money.

Generally, Americans feel the same way about their state taxes. A recent Gallup 50-state poll found that 50 percent of the respondents thought their taxes were too high.

However, Americans' view that their taxes are fair is becoming less common. While 54 percent of the national poll's respondents said they believe their tax burden is fair, the number is at its lowest point after it peaked at 64 percent in 2003.

But most Americans have not always felt their taxes were fair, Gallup reports. In 1999, slightly more Americans, 49 percent, said their taxes were not fair, with 45 percent saying their taxes were fair.

Patriotism has driven opinions on tax fairness in the past. During the 1940s and World War II, Americans were "overwhelmingly likely to say their taxes were fair, most likely out of a sense of patriotism as the nation was spending a large percentage of citizens' tax money to fight the war," the poll said.

The fairness opinion hit a peak in February 1944, when 90 percent of Americans said they believed their taxes were fair. But by 1946, after World War II, the percentage of people who thought their taxes were fair dropped to 60 percent.

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