Eight of Ten Americans Consider Death Tax an Unfair Form of Double Taxation

The vast majority of Americans believe the estate tax, also known as the Death Tax, should be permanently repealed, according to a new survey released this week by the American International Automobile Dealers Association (AIADA).

The survey, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates in late February among 1,000 likely voters, found that nearly two-thirds (61 percent) feel that the estate tax should be abolished because it is inherently unfair.

Likely voters who believe the estate tax, or death tax, should be permanently abolished outnumber proponents of the tax by a margin of more than three-to-one. According to the poll, 61.6 percent of respondents support permanent repeal; 18.7 percent oppose permanent repeal.

Voters believe the death tax is fundamentally unfair. When asked whether it is fair or unfair to tax earnings while being earned and again after the earner dies, 84 percent of all voters consider it to be unfair. Voters view the death tax as a double tax and another example of government overreaching.

Among the poll's other findings:

  • Most Republicans, Democrats and Independents favor permanent repeal. According to the survey, 73.2 percent of Republicans support permanent repeal, as well as 50.3 percent and 61.3 percent of Democrats and Independents, respectively.

  • Support for permanent repeal transcends ideological lines. According to the survey, self-described conservative Republicans (77.7 percent) and moderate Republicans (69.6 percent) overwhelmingly support permanent repeal.

  • Among liberal Republicans, support for permanent repeal is at 59.5 percent. Even self-described conservative Democrats and moderate Democrats support permanent repeal, 60.9 percent and 51.4 percent, respectively. Only among self-described liberal Democrats is support for permanent repeal below 50 percent (44.5 percent).

  • Income is irrelevant to voter sentiment that the death tax is unfair.

  • According to the poll's findings, among voters earning less than $40,000 per year, 84 percent feel the death tax is unfair; 12 percent feel it is fair.

  • Among voters earning over $100,000, 82 percent view it as unfair, while 11 percent view it as fair.

  • Most minorities support permanent repeal. According to the survey, 56.4 percent of African Americans support permanent repeal of the tax, and 51.4 percent of Hispanics believe the tax should be taken off the books forever.

  • Among Caucasian voters, 63.5 percent favor permanent repeal.

  • The majority of both men and women favor permanent repeal.

  • The survey found that among men, 62.9 percent favor permanent repeal of the tax; among women, 60.0 support permanent repeal.

  • Most Americans, regardless of age, support permanent repeal.

  • 67.3 percent of likely voters age 41-65 support permanent repeal; among likely voters age 56-65, support for permanent repeal is at 63.6 percent. Likely voters over the age of 65 support permanent repeal at a rate of 61.9 percent. Among 26-40 year-olds, support for permanent repeal is at 53.2 percent. Only among likely voters age 18-25 is support below 50 percent (48.2 percent).

Methodology: This national survey of 1,000 likely voters was conducted on February 23-24, 2004. All interviews were conducted via telephone by professional interviewers.

Respondent selection was at random within predetermined geographical units, which reflect actual voter distributions in a Presidential election. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence interval.

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