Left-leaning views on taxes fueled by ignorance of tax system


Following a downward trend since 2003, Americans are now more likely to view the amount of income taxes they pay as fair, according to a new study released this week by Gallup.

A separate study on taxes was released this week by the Pew Research Center which found that Americans are more likely than they were 20 years ago to believe that the tax system as a whole is unfair because corporations and the wealthy are not paying their share.

Even so, both the Pew and Gallup studies gleaned similar responses regarding Americans’ level of contentment with their own tax rates, with 54 percent telling Pew that they pay “about the right amount,” and 61 percent saying the same to Gallup.

The Daily Signal drew the conclusion from the collective results of both studies that Americans are more satisfied with their own tax rates, yet believe that the federal tax system as a whole is unfair.

According to Pew, the top two aggravations for Americans were that “some corporations don’t pay their fair share,” which bothers 62 percent “a lot,” and that “some wealthy people don’t pay their fair share,” a sentiment held by 60 percent of respondents.

Forty-three percent of respondents were bothered by the complexity of the tax system, with 43 percent asserting that they were not bothered too much or at all by the amount of taxes they pay themselves.

Regarding the fairness of the tax system, research from The Heritage Foundation’s Center on Public Opinion revealed that Americans’ sense of the system’s unfairness is likely attributable to an inaccurate understanding of who pays what taxes in the United States.

When federal and state taxes are combined, the average corporate tax rate in the United States is 39 percent—the highest corporate tax rate in the world—although a recent study found that registered voters, on average, guessed the corporate tax rate to be 30 percent. Most guessed even lower.

A December 2014 study found similar results regarding perceptions about personal income taxes. According to The Daily Signal, “That year, the top 10 percent of American earners making $120,000 per year or more earned 41 percent of all income, but paid 68 percent of all income taxes.”

Americans came close when guessing who earns what, contending, on average, that the top 10 percent of Americans earned 41 percent of wages when, in fact, the number was 45 percent.

However, they did not accurately guess the proportion of U.S. taxes that they pay. Respondents asserted that the top 10 percent pays 38 percent of all taxes when they actually pay 68 percent.

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