Public Opinion on Taxes: 1937 to Today

White House/Pete Souza

Billionaire Warren Buffett meets with President Obama in the Oval Office on July 04, 2010.

Article Highlights

  • Occupy Wall Street has failed to change attitudes; taxing the rich or tax reform appear not to be key issues for voters

    Tweet This

  • Be sure to check out this report on public opinion towards taxes by @AEI.

    Tweet This

AEI Public Opinion Study on Taxes, 2012

Download PDF
Today, AEI releases its annual compilation of polls on attitudes toward taxes. This AEI Public Opinion Study looks at attitudes since the first questions were asked in the mid-1930s to today. The highlights this year:

 * It does not appear that taxing the rich or tax reform will be key issues for voters this fall. Occupy Wall Street has done little to change attitudes toward taxing the rich, with long-standing support toward taxing them more remaining strong. On a related point, polls show solid support for the Buffett Rule. 

 * In questions asked by the Roper Organization between 1972 and 1992, between 72 and 80 percent said “high-income families” pay too little in taxes. In 1992, Gallup started asking whether “upper-income people” pay too little, too much, or the right amount in federal taxes, and 77 percent said they paid too little. That response has moved downward unevenly. In 2011, 59 percent said they paid too little. Most people say what they pay in taxes is “fair” or “about right.”

 * In our new section on the flat tax, we compare attitudes when Steve Forbes made a flat tax a key part of his 1996 presidential run to attitudes about Rick Perry’s flat tax and Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan. Many people don’t have an opinion about a flat tax and generally prefer a graduated tax system. 

 * President Obama’s marks on handling taxes were high early in his presidency. They dropped in late 2011 and have recovered a little in early 2012, with various polls indicating approval ratings between 36 and 45 percent. In the only poll we’ve found that matches Obama up with Romney on the issue, 49 percent say Obama would do a better job handling taxes, with 45 percent favoring Romney.   

Karlyn Bowman is a senior fellow at AEI.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Karlyn
Bowman

What's new on AEI

To secure southern border, US must lead international effort to stabilize Central America
image The Ryan pro-work, anti-poverty plan: Thomas Aquinas 1, Ayn Rand 0
image Does SNAP support work? Yes and no
image Obama Democrats lose their big bet on health exchanges
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 21
    MON
  • 22
    TUE
  • 23
    WED
  • 24
    THU
  • 25
    FRI
Monday, July 21, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Closing the gaps in health outcomes: Alternative paths forward

Please join us for a broader exploration of targeted interventions that provide real promise for reducing health disparities, limiting or delaying the onset of chronic health conditions, and improving the performance of the US health care system.

Monday, July 21, 2014 | 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Comprehending comprehensive universities

Join us for a panel discussion that seeks to comprehend the comprehensives and to determine the role these schools play in the nation’s college completion agenda.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 | 8:50 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Who governs the Internet? A conversation on securing the multistakeholder process

Please join AEI’s Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy for a conference to address key steps we can take, as members of the global community, to maintain a free Internet.

Thursday, July 24, 2014 | 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Expanding opportunity in America: A conversation with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan

Please join us as House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveils a new set of policy reforms aimed at reducing poverty and increasing upward mobility throughout America.

Thursday, July 24, 2014 | 6:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
Is it time to end the Export-Import Bank?

We welcome you to join us at AEI as POLITICO’s Ben White moderates a lively debate between Tim Carney, one of the bank’s fiercest critics, and Tony Fratto, one of the agency’s staunchest defenders.

Event Registration is Closed
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.