What Bothers Americans Most About the U.S. Tax System?

May 4th 2017
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A recent survey conducted by Pew Research Center revealed that 62 percent of Americans are bothered by the feeling that some corporations don’t pay their fair share of taxes, while 60 percent said the same about wealthy people.

Drilling down further, the national survey of 1,501 adults found that 43 percent are frustrated a great deal by the federal tax system’s complexity, but only 27 percent are bothered by the amount of taxes they pay. In addition, 20 percent of respondents feel that some poor people don’t pay their fair share of taxes.

The key here, though, is that there’s a shift in opinion among Democrats. More of them than in past surveys now feel differently, which has skewed the results.

Here’s a closer look:

By Party
Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to say they are bothered “a lot” by the feeling that some corporations don’t pay their fair share of taxes (75 percent vs. 44 percent). And the gap is about as wide over the feeling that some wealthy people don’t pay enough taxes (76 percent vs. 40 percent).

But while the feelings that corporations and the wealthy don’t pay their fair share are the top frustrations among Democrats, no single concern stands out among Republicans. What bothers Republicans most is the complexity of the tax system (49 percent, compared to 39 percent of Democrats).

By Tax Burden
People’s own tax burdens are not a leading concern in either party, though Republicans and Republican-leaning individuals are more likely than Democrats and Democratic-leaning individuals to say they are very frustrated by the amount they pay in taxes (35 percent vs. 21 percent).

Just 26 percent of Republicans and 15 percent of Democrats said they are bothered a lot by the feeling that some poor people don’t pay their fair share.

By Annual Income
The tax system is more of a concern among Americans with a greater annual family income than less. More than half (53 percent) with family incomes of $100,000 or more are bothered by the complexity of the tax system. But for those with incomes between $30,000 and $99,999, 45 percent said tax complexity is a concern. Only 34 percent of those with family incomes of less than $30,000 are bothered by the current tax system.

But among Republicans, 59 percent with family incomes of $75,000 or more a year said the complexity of the tax system bothers them a lot, compared to 48 percent with incomes of $30,000 to $74,999 and 37 percent of those making less than $30,000 annually.

Among Democrats, 41 percent with family incomes of $75,000 or more a year said tax complexity bothers them a lot, compared to 43 percent with incomes of $30,000 to $74,999 and 31 percent of those making less than $30,000 annually.

Overall, 54 percent of Americans said they pay about the right amount in taxes, considering what they get from the federal government, while 40 percent said they pay more than their fair share. Just 5 percent believe they pay less than their fair share.

Today, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say that they are asked to pay more than their fair share in taxes (45 percent vs. 33 percent).

In 2011, 54 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats believed they were paying their fair share of taxes. About 40 percent in both parties said they paid more than their fair share (39 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of Democrats).

Related article:

Survey: Americans Believe Tax System is in Need of an Overhaul

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