New Podcast on Public Opinion Polls and Taxes

June 10, 2011

Earlier this week I talked with American Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow and polling analyst Karlyn Bowman on the Tax Policy Podcast about her recent study on the history of public opinion on tax issues. Her 100+ page study from April, "Public Opinion and Taxes: 1937 to Today," is the most comprehensive collection of polls ever compiled on the topic. Fortunately, for more casual readers, it is easily browsable and yields some fascinating information.

  • Between 1947 and 2010, when asked about their federal income tax burden, no more than 3% of Americans ever said that the amount that they pay is "too low." (p. 3-4)
  • Since 1958, the percenatge of Americans who think the government wastes "a lot" of the money it collects has risen from 43% to 74% in 2010, having peaked earlier in 1993 at 86%. (p. 11)
  • The number of Americans who were "very worried" that the increasing federal debt would harm the financial future of their children and grandchildren increased from 42% in 2008 to 56% in 2010. (p. 40)
  • In October 1992, likely voters gave independent candidate Ross Perot a six-point lead over incumbent George H.W. Bush and a five-point lead over eventual winner Bill Clinton on which would "better handle" taxes. (p. 57)
  • In Februaru 2006, 79% of Americans told PRSA/Pew pollsters that they considered not reporting income on a tax return to be "morally wrong," more than for excessive drinking (61%), smoking marijuana (50%), sex between unmarried adults (35%) or overeating (32%). (p. 100)

More on public opinion surveys here.

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