Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Friday, September 30, 2016

53 Percent Think ‘Middle-Income’ Americans Pay ‘Fair Share’; 61 Percent Think ‘Upper-Income’ Pay ‘Too Little’

This morning Gallup published its annual Tax Day poll with the headline “Fewer Americans Now View Their Income Taxes as Fair,” noting that the total percentage who think their tax bill is “fair” is down by 4 percent this year:

tuozyibm1eyagfd_6rcb_w

But The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky took a quick dive into the poll’s crosstabs and found the story is much more complex when you look at what the respondents had to say about each group:

The three numbers after each category represent the responses “fair share,” “too much,” and “too little.

Middle-class people: 53, 42, 3

Low-income people: 37, 40, 1

High-income people: 26, 11, 61

Corporations: 21, 8, 66

The number of Americans who think “high-income” people pay their fair share is just about the same as last year, while 61 percent thought this group paid too little. The number who think corporations pay too little is up by 2 percent.

Mitt Romney’s candidacy helped make clear to the rest of the country how rich people — especially those who make their living as investors — pay lower tax rates than most would expect, or pay themselves. While taxes on income over $400,000 did go up on January 1, tax dodges like the “carried-interest loophole” still exist in the tax code.

And while conservatives love to say we have “the highest corporate tax rate” in the world at 35 percent, the average tax rate is much closer to 12 percent.

Tomasky sees these poll numbers as an indictment of the current tax debate in Washington. He quotes economist Joseph Stiglitz’s analysis of how skewed the tax code is in favor of the nation’s richest:

About 6 in 10 of us believe that the tax system is unfair — and they’re right: put simply, the very rich don’t pay their fair share. The richest 400 individual taxpayers, with an average income of more than $200 million, pay less than 20 percent of their income in taxes — far lower than mere millionaires, who pay about 25 percent of their income in taxes, and about the same as those earning a mere $200,000 to $500,000. And in 2009, 116 of the top 400 earners — almost a third — paid less than 15 percent of their income in taxes.

Whether people know that many corporations and millionaires pay no taxes at all, they certainly suspect that the game is rigged.

  • Charles___Darwin

    Proof that the masses are ignorant.

    • Sand_Cat

      Well, you’re a good place to start, anyway.

  • I believe my tax burden is fair, I just wish those who earn a lot more than I do, and the corporations that stash money overseas to avoid paying taxes on all their earnings, also paid their fair share.

    • jgsoliveira

      They’ll call you a Socialist!

    • montanabill

      Since you are presuming to be an expert on the subject of stashing money overseas to avoid taxes, how about telling us how to do it? Can I simply create an address in the Cayman Islands and have money made in the U.S. escape taxation by having it sent there? If I send money to an overseas bank on which I haven’t paid taxes, does that mean I won’t be libel for taxes on it? If I send after-tax money to the Caymans, use it to invest in Chinese companies and make money which I don’t bring back to the U.S., is that avoiding U.S. taxes?

      • Sand_Cat

        Your point? Are you hoping that the truth that many corporations and some individuals do will be lost in your tirade?

        • montanabill

          Actually, I am checking to see if you know anything about the subject.

          • Sand_Cat

            Good luck. I’m sure Fox News or some similar propaganda mill will tell you what you want to hear.

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    What I’d like to know is why the Republicans never whisper the words “offshore” tax free bank accounts at $33 trillion. Meanwhile, they focus on the revenues of $866 billion paid by regular payroll tax deductions annually? Who is BSing whom these days? Should those who amassed that $33 trillion pay zero taxes on the money they earned in the US? If you earn it in the US and use an offshore tax shelter, how isn’t that a violation of our tax codes? An individual Middle Class person gets hung out to dry for far less….what’s with the coddling of the rich?

    • montanabill

      Outside of your ‘offshore’ accounts having $12 trillion more than normally estimated,

      do you know why that money isn’t taxed? How many ‘rich’ are there and what percentage actually have offshore accounts?

  • montanabill

    Exactly what is ‘fair’ about making people who are achievers pay a higher percentage of their incomes than other people? Even if everyone paid the same percentage, high income people would still pay substantially more, but that would be fair. A moment of clear thought will allow you understand that the ‘rich’ are
    comprised of all ethnic groups doing all kinds of business in all kinds of professions. The vast
    majority have received no additional benefits from government than the
    average Joe. So, aside from wanting to punish people who do better than you do, what is the moral justification for graduated tax rates?

    • Sand_Cat

      What’s fair about people’s being so wealthy they’ve bought and own our government? That’s one very good answer to your last question. And despite your desperation to maintain the illusion that you and other “high achievers” did it all on your own without any help whatsoever from anyone or anything because you’re some sort of supermen, you’ve learned to navigate the environment provided by this republic (or oligarchy now, thanks in part to the absence of a progressive tax system) that we all work to build and maintain. And despite your pathetic whining, most of us would love to be “punished,” as you put it. If you can’t see the moral justification for “graduated tax rates,” as you, put it all around you you have an even larger blind spot than you do about the so-called 47%.

      • montanabill

        Do you have any idea how many ‘rich’ people there are? Do you have any idea how many of them actually get directly involved with government? Of course not! You are simply taking demagoguery as fact.

        Whatever ‘extra help’ you might think I got, you are totally mistaken. You have likely gotten more help from government than I ever have. You are under the illusion that only certain favored or connected people can achieve wealth or success. That is total hogwash. This country is chock full of people who had a dream, worked hard for years, sacrificed, overcame innumerable hardships and achieved their dream. They are still doing it today. If you didn’t do it, but thought about it, that’s on you. No one else. If you would love to be ‘punished’, get busy. Then see if you still feel the same way when other people demand that you pay more of what you have worked for so they can have more goodies from government.

        • Sand_Cat

          First of all, you read what you wanted to, and of course never answered the primary point: excessive wealth in the hands of a few endangers the liberty of all others. It’s why the estate tax was instituted, and it’s one very good reason to have a progressive tax structure, and the current state of our country is an eloquent testimony to its truth.

          And I’m not doing any “demagoguery”; I could never compete with you and your right-wing friends. And if I said you got “special help” it must have been a slip of the tongue. The fact that you are alive today is probably attributable to public health initiatives by governments that people like you feel enraged to even have to make any contribution to. If not you, plenty of your fellow superior beings. I don’t know about helping people with a dream, but our system certainly is overwhelmingly skewed toward helping the wealthy, despite all your phoney outrage and denial. Your products – if you make any – are transported on roads, railroads, and out of ports you didn’t build. Even if you learned everything you know by self-study, the skilled employees most businesses depend on are educated for the most part at public expense, at least through secondary school. Despite the hatred you and all of the “self-made” seem to have for the EPA and environmental protection, you live in a more pleasant world than you would without their help, and you aren’t one of the many casualties of bad air and bad water, the latter the number one killer of children in the world, and both preventing millions of people from even having a dream other than wishing they had the strength to go to a job if one were available. I shouldn’t have to point any of this out, and I’ve said more than I should already. If you really were willing to consider the point, you could find books on the topic. If the government had not funded the research and established the first Internet, you wouldn’t be airing your nasty and mean-spirited delusions on this site.

          And in answer to your last question, I pay a far higher percentage of my income than many wealthy people – including possibly you – and probably more than most major corporations in this country. And I don’t sit and whine about it like you and all your arrogant and self-righteous friends do. If you spent less time doing that and endlessly grubbing for more and more, despite a probably already comfortable income, you might actually discover that you could enjoy life more, and maybe even do nice things for people who truly need the “extra” help you of course never got.
          If you didn’t judge everybody who isn’t in complete agreement with you as a freeloader trying to get “yours” like some kind of deranged miser, you might get a more respectful hearing on sites such as this one. Ditto if you weren’t obviously and openly supporting measures to deny the vote to those who disagree with you. People who live in the kind of repressive and intrusive dictatorship apparently imagined as paradise by the current Republican party and people like you don’t generally get to live their dreams unless they know the right people and can get plenty of government help.

          • montanabill

            Your first point is utter nonsense. Wealth in this country is not in the hands of a few, it is in the hands of millions. And those millions are a fluctuating group, not as typically in Europe, the same families. The estate tax, like the progressive income tax was instituted by government using the standard class warfare demagoguery simply to try to get more revenue while implementing a tax structure that allowed government to favor some at the expense of others. A little study of wealth would show you that wealth in America does not stay in the same families for long. Each generation of a family results in dilution. In cases of extreme wealth, it takes a little longer, but it always happens, none-the-less.

            You cite all of the things you believe helped me to be successful, yet these same things are available to all. Shouldn’t we all, then, have equal success? The fact is, there is infinitely more government ‘help’ today than when I was working to achieve the American dream, so shouldn’t that translate in even more success stories, if your theory is true? Government was not there to provide medical help or student loans or job training or food or housing or anything else, for my generation (veterans excepted). So how can it be that with so much more government, the economy is regressing? Why do you feel people who have overcome the obstacles to achieve a better economic status than others must be forced to support those who were not self-reliant? Regardless of your political philosophy, you alone bear the responsibility for your life.

  • onedonewong

    Just a reflection of low information voters. the 47% who don’t pay any income taxes think that they are entitled to their free ride