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Published: Jan 20, 2020 9 min read
Illustration by Sam Island

We may live in polarized times, but there's one belief that Americans of all races, genders, and political persuasions can get behind: Tax the Rich!

Survey after recent survey confirms, quite simply, that most people think the richest Americans should pay more in taxes. The concept seems to have only gained more support since the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which has disproportionally benefitted the richest American taxpayers, as well as some of the world's biggest corporations. And we are in an election year, of course, so arguments about the relative fairness of the tax system and whether the rich pay enough in taxes are bound to pop up and grow even more heated in the months ahead.

Granted, as many tax cut supporters point out, high-income earners are usually the people who pay the most in taxes to begin with, so naturally they'd benefit more when taxes are cut. There are also arguments made that increasing taxes on the rich, via an Elizabeth Warren-style wealth tax or perhaps raising tax rates to upwards of 70% on the highest levels of income, could backfire and result in widespread tax "avoidance, evasion, and capital flight," as Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at the Cato Institute, put it.

Putting these complications aside, as well as difficult questions involving exactly how to tax the rich and what tax plan might truly seem fair, there is no denying that most Americans favor the idea of increasing taxes on the rich. And yes, most Republicans, Democrats, and independents alike are on board with the general concept.

As the 2020 presidential election continues to take shape, here's a more nuanced look at recent surveys showing how different groups of American voters support a wealth tax, significantly increased high-end tax rates, or other ways to tax the rich.

Should the very rich pay more in taxes?

According to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll, nearly two-thirds of respondents strongly agreed or somewhat agreed with the idea that "the very rich should contribute an extra share of their total wealth each year to support public programs."