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Published: Apr 18, 2022 4 min read
Collage of a hand with a thumbs up and a hand with a thumbs down next to a pile of money and a 1040 Tax Return form
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Think you pay too much in taxes? Your answer probably has a lot to do with how you vote and how much you earn.

A CBS News-YouGov poll released Monday asked more than 1,600 U.S. adults: “In general, do you feel you pay more than your fair share in federal income taxes, less than your fair share, or is the amount you pay about right?”

A plurality of respondents, 47%, said what they’re paying is “about right.” Meanwhile, 45% said they feel that they’re paying more than their fair share.

About a quarter of respondents expect to owe taxes when filing this year (as opposed to the overwhelming majority who expect tax refunds), and this group was far likelier to report feeling that they pay too much.

Another 8% of poll respondents said what they’re paying in taxes is less than their fair share. Male respondents (9%) were more likely than female respondents (7%) to say they feel like they’re paying less than their fair share. Age also played a notable role. The group most likely to say that they feel that they’re paying less than their fair share was people under age 30, at 19%.

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Politics, taxes and fairness

Perhaps the biggest underlying factor that guides Americans' perception of tax fairness is political ideology.

Of those who identified as conservative, 55% said that they feel like they’re forking over more than what’s fair — compared to 43% of moderates and 37% of liberals. Interestingly, 9% of moderates reported thinking they’re paying less than a fair amount, the highest of the three.

These political divides from the new poll generally jive with historical data.

Gallup has been tracking Americans’ views on their taxes since the ‘50s, and research from the firm shows that 58% of conservatives (and 60% of Republicans) hold views that their income tax is too high. On the other hand, only 32% of liberals (and 39% of Democrats) would say the same.

Of all Americans, 50% in 2021 said their federal taxes were too high, while 55% said the taxes they pay are "fair."

Political views trump even income, according to Gallup, though what someone earns does play into how fair they think their tax burden is. According to a Gallup report from April 2021 that reviewed survey responses over the previous 10 years, Americans who earned $150,000 or more were 9 percentage points more likely to say their taxes were too high.

“These are not huge differences,” the report states, “but they do suggest that Americans making significantly above the national median income have somewhat of an enhanced tendency to complain that their federal taxes are too high.”

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