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What Does America Think About Taxes? The 2007 Annual Survey of U.S. Attitudes on Taxes and Wealth

By: Andrew Chamberlain

Download Special Report No. 154

Special Report No. 154

Executive Summary
While foreign policy continues to dominate politics in Washington, the 2007 Annual Survey of U.S. Attitudes on TaxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. es and Wealth shows that the domestic issues of tax complexity, fairness and burdens continue to weigh heavily on the minds of the American people. For the third consecutive year, we find that a majority of U.S. adults say the federal income taxes they pay are “too high,” that the federal tax code is complex, and that the U.S. tax system is in need of major changes or a complete overhaul.

This report summarizes the findings of our third annual survey of U.S. opinions on taxes. All results are based on a Harris Interactive® survey conducted on behalf of the Tax Foundation between March 5 and 12, 2007. The survey covers a nationwide cross section of 2,012 U.S. adults aged 18 or older. All data from this and previous years’ surveys are available for download free of charge at under “Public Opinion Surveys on Taxes.”

Key Findings:

  • A new 2007 poll of tax attitudes finds a majority of U.S. adults believe the federal tax code is complex, that the federal income taxes they pay are “too high,” and the federal tax system needs major changes or a complete overhaul.
  • Just one in ten (10 percent) say they are willing to pay higher taxes to eliminate 2007’s projected $244 billion federal budget deficit.
  • Two-thirds (66 percent) favor a complete elimination of the controversial federal estate taxAn estate tax is imposed on the net value of an individual’s taxable estate, after any exclusions or credits, at the time of death. The tax is paid by the estate itself before assets are distributed to heirs. .
  • Roughly half (48 percent) say they are willing to give up some federal tax deductionA tax deduction is a provision that reduces taxable income. A standard deduction is a single deduction at a fixed amount. Itemized deductions are popular among higher-income taxpayers who often have significant deductible expenses, such as state/local taxes paid, mortgage interest, and charitable contributions. s if such broadening of the tax baseThe tax base is the total amount of income, property, assets, consumption, transactions, or other economic activity subject to taxation by a tax authority. A narrow tax base is non-neutral and inefficient. A broad tax base reduces tax administration costs and allows more revenue to be raised at lower rates. were coupled with an across-the-board cut in tax rates.
  • The estate tax is seen as the most “unfair” federal tax, followed by gasoline taxes and personal income taxes. At the state and local level, gasoline taxes are seen as the most “unfair” tax, followed by local property taxA property tax is primarily levied on immovable property like land and buildings, as well as on tangible personal property that is movable, like vehicles and equipment. Property taxes are the single largest source of state and local revenue in the U.S. and help fund schools, roads, police, and other services. es and motor vehicle taxes.