Yet according to the results of a new survey from the Pew Research Center, the majority of Americans are bothered “a lot” by the idea that big businesses and the rich already aren’t paying enough in federal taxes.
When asked what bothers them about our tax system, survey participants checked off “Some corporations don’t pay their fair share” and “Some wealthy people don’t pay their fair share” as the top two answers, with 62% and 60%, respectively, saying they’re bothered “a lot.” Another 18% of respondents said they’re bothered “some” by each of these concepts. In other words, 8 in 10 Americans are frustrated that corporations and rich people don’t cough up their fair share in taxes right now.
The unfairness of the tax system is apparently more bothersome than its complexity and how much the individual has to pay. Nearly three-quarters of survey participants are frustrated by the tax system’s complexity (43% “a lot,” 29% “some”), and slightly over half don’t like how much they have to pay in taxes (27% “a lot,” 26% “some”). Still, in a different part of the survey, 54% of participants agreed that they pay “about the right amount” in taxes, compared to 40% who think they’re paying “more than their fair share.” Meanwhile, the majority (57%) aren’t bothered at all by the idea that some lower-income people aren’t paying their fair share in taxes.
The majority of survey participants who lean Republican (58%) and Democrat (54%) alike feel that the system is unfair. Yet while the percentage of Republicans feeling this way is essentially unchanged since 2015, Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents who think the system is unfair has risen significantly, up from 43% two years ago.
Unsurprisingly, there are partisan differences when it comes to the perception of taxes on corporations and the rich. Among Republicans, only 44% and 40% are bothered “a lot” by some businesses and wealthy people not paying their fair share in taxes, compared to 75% and 76%, respectively, among Democrats.
Republicans, on the other hand, are more likely to be bothered “a lot” by the tax system’s complexity (49%, versus 39% of Democrats), the amount they pay in taxes (35%, versus 21%), and that some poor people aren’t paying enough (26%, versus 15%).