Most Americans Don’t Mind Paying Taxes, but They Want Everyone to Pay

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2016 individual income tax returns are due by midnight tonight. And if you haven’t filed yet and if you’re like most Americans, you think the taxes you pay are fair. But, by a nearly equal percentage, you’re not sure everyone else is paying their fair share.

According to a report from Pew Research Center published last Friday, 62% of Americans say it bothers them “a lot” that some corporations do not pay their fair share and 60% are bothered “a lot” that some wealthy people don’t pay their fair share.

When asked if Americans view the federal tax system as fair, 50% of respondents in February 2015 said it was very or moderately fair, compared with just 42% in April 2017. And party affiliation doesn’t matter much: 54% of Democrats and Democratic leaners (Democrats, from now on) think the system is not too or not at all fair. Some 58% of Republicans and Republican leaners (Republicans) say the same thing.

As the Trump administration embarks on what many hope will be a broad reform of the U.S. tax system, respondents to the Pew Research survey indicate how difficult that is likely to be. Only 44% of Republicans (down from 55% in February 2015) are bothered a lot that corporations don’t pay their fair share compared, with 75% of Democrats (up from 73%). Likewise, 40% of Republicans (down from 59%) are bothered a lot by wealthy individuals who don’t pay their fair share, compared with 76% (up from 71%) of Democrats.

More than a quarter (26%) of Republicans are bothered a lot that some poor people don’t pay their fair share of taxes, compared with 15% of Democrats. Among both Republicans and Democrats, this is the lowest-ranked concern about the tax system.

Gallup also issued a survey report on the federal tax system last week. The firm noted:

Americans’ perceptions of the fairness of their taxes have varied over the years, tending to be lower in years when a Democratic president was in office and higher in years when there was a Republican president. … Between 2003 — the year Bush passed a second round of tax cuts — and the end of his presidency, at least six in 10 Americans believed their taxes were fair. In 2009, Barack Obama’s first year as president, 61% of Americans still said their taxes were fair, but in subsequent years the figure stayed below 60%. … Now that Republican Donald Trump is in office, the percentage saying their taxes are fair is back above 60%.

Interestingly, only 30% of Americans who earn less than $30,000 a year think they are paying more than their fair share of taxes. More than half (52%) of Americans who earn more than $100,000 think they pay more than their fair share.