Tax time
AEI Political Report, April 2014

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It’s that time again — the deadline for Americans to file federal income tax returns. But what do Americans really think about the amount of federal taxes they pay? This issue of AEI’s Political Report examines this and other questions regarding taxes and other hot topics.

Few Americans think that taxes or tax reform should be a top priority for the president and Congress. A January 2014 Quinnipiac survey finds that only 4 percent of Americans say taxes should be the most important priority for President Obama and Congress.

Americans tend to believe that the country as a whole is overtaxed, but many say that they pay about the right amount in federal taxes. According to Gallup, half of Americans think their federal incomes taxes are too high, but 45 percent say their taxes are “about right.” Six in 10 Americans are either somewhat or very dissatisfied with the amount Americans pay in federal taxes.

Surprisingly, 19 percent of Americans believe that “lower-income people” pay too little in taxes, according to a Gallup survey. When the question was first asked in 1992, the response was in single digits. Much of the increase in this trend has occurred after the 2008 financial crisis. Most say the rich pay too little, but that’s down from the responses in the early 1990s. 

The Gallup trends on President Obama’s job approval rating and his rating on handling taxes look quite similar, with his job approval rating being slightly higher. 

Americans are divided on which political party would do a better job handling taxes. A January 2014 ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that 42 percent trust Democrats more on taxes, while 41 percent trust Republicans more. 

The environment is an important issue to many millennials, but most young people are more interested in another kind of “green”: making a lot of money. Of millennials, 82 percent say being very well off financially is an essential or very important objective for them. Only 39 percent say the same of adopting “green” practices to protect the environment.

Should student athletes be paid? According to a new HBO Real Sports/Marist poll, fewer than 3 in 10 Americans think so. 

AEI Political Report: Tax time by American Enterprise Institute

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