What Does the Public Think About Taxes?

November 2, 2005

Although the President’s Tax Reform Panel completed its work yesterday, the debate on tax reform remains in its early stages. The American Enterprise Institute has made a contribution to that debate, compiling a comprehensive summary of public opinion on taxes with polling data back to 1947 and from numerous sources—including our own Annual Survey of U.S. Attitudes on Tax and Wealth.

One of the interesting themes is the consistent pessimism the public shows toward Washington, and its inability to pursue good tax policy. Consider these responses:

If a presidential candidate took a pledge not to raise taxes if elected, would you or would you not believe him? (Feb. 1992 NBC/WSJ)…Believe Him = 8%; Not Believe Him = 86%

Do you think your family’s taxes will go up, go down or stay about the same next year as a result of the decisions made in Washington? (Oct. 1995 AP)…Go Up = 55%; Stay Same = 33%; Go Down = 6%

What’s your best guess – do you think Congress this year will increase taxes or decrease them? (Jan. 1958 Gallup)…Increase = 57%; Stay Same = 29%; Go Down = 6%

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Read the full piece here.

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