Results tagged “public opinion”

Oklahoma Poised to Implement Tax Cut Voters Don't Want

The Oklahoma legislature recently approved a cut to the state’s top personal income tax rate, at the urging of Governor Mary Fallin. When the plan is fully implemented in 2016, the state’s top tax rate will fall from 5.25 to 4.85 percent, at a cost to the state of $237 million per year.  While a slim majority (52 percent) of Oklahomans support the idea of an income tax cut in the abstract, that support evaporates (falling to 31 percent) once the plan is explained in more detail.

That detail is as follows. According to an analysis by our partner organization, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), roughly 4 in 10 Oklahomans—generally lower- and middle-income families—will receive no tax cut at all under the plan, while the average tax cut for a middle-income family will be just $30.  The wealthiest 5 percent of taxpayers, by contrast, will receive 40 percent of the benefits, with the state’s top 1 percent of earners alone taking home a tax cut averaging over $2,000 per year.

When these basic facts about the tax plan now on Governor Fallin’s desk were explained to a random sample of registered Oklahoma voters, 60 percent of them said they opposed it, with a full 47 percent describing themselves as “strongly opposed.”

Voters’ reaction was similar upon being informed that the plan will require reducing state services like education, public safety, and health care. This vital piece of information resulted in support for the tax cut dropping to just 34 percent, and opposition rising to 56 percent (with 44 percent “strongly opposed.”)

These polling results are backed up by interviews with Oklahoma citizens conducted by the state’s largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. One Oklahoma resident explains, for example, that “If [the tax cut] harmed education I don't want it. I have a niece that is a schoolteacher and I'd rather have more teachers than the little bit of money.” Another says that “It sounds like the rich are just getting richer.”

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Policy Institute (OPI) explains that the plan isn’t just unpopular—it’s fundamentally irresponsible: “We have seen no evidence that Oklahoma will be able to afford a tax cut in [2015, when the first stage of the cut takes effect]. Indeed, we are already seeing signs of faltering revenue collections, with revenue falling below last year.” Concern about the sustainability of Oklahoma’s revenues is compounded by the possibility that “the state could be on the hook for as much as $480 million” in additional expenses if a court ruling against its tax break for capital gains is upheld. The Associated Press reports that when the impact of this court ruling is “combined with an estimated $237 million price tag for a tax cut approved by the Legislature this year and expected to be signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin… the cost to the state could amount to 10 percent of the total state appropriated budget.”

Given these challenges, it’s hard to argue with OPI’s policy prescription: “Now that cuts are scheduled, the only responsible path forward is to pursue real tax reform that goes beyond the top income tax rate. To fund education and ensure a prosperous future for Oklahoma, we need real action to reign in unnecessary tax credits and exemptions that cost us hundreds of millions of dollars every year.”

Election Day Polls Empower President, Congress To Raise Taxes

According to the official exit polls on Election Day a combined 60 percent of voters support increasing taxes, with 47 percent supporting an increase in taxes on those making over $250,000 and 13 percent supporting a tax increase on everyone. Barely one third of voters think no one’s taxes should be increased. This support for higher taxes reinforces the fact that only small minority (21 percent) support the disastrous spending cuts-only approach to deficit reduction, as represented by the debt ceiling deal.

Making the voters' views even more clear, an election night poll by Hart Research found that 62 percent of voters said that they were trying to send the message that the Congress should make sure the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes. In addition, the Hart poll found that 73 percent of voters said that Medicare and Social Security benefits should be protected from cuts.

This is important: while lawmakers in DC have been focused on deficit reduction over the last couple years, most voters do not share their concern. In fact, 59 percent told pollsters on Election Day that unemployment was the most important economic issue facing the country, which is almost four times the percentage of voters that said the deficit was the most important economic issue.

The results of these Election Day polls mirror a plethora of public polling over the past couple of years on how to handle deficit reduction. Earlier this year, for example, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that as many as 72 percent of Americans support increasing taxes on millionaires. Making the public preference clear, former Reagan official Bruce Bartlett compiled 19 different polls during the debt ceiling fight last year showing there is wide support among Americans for raising taxes to deal with the deficit.

Taken together, the Election Day polls once again reveal the substantial gap between the kinds of policies that the public would like Congress to pursue and the policies it’s actually pursuing. To start, the fact that the public is more concerned about the health of the economy than about deficit reduction should make Congress reverse course and actually increase government spending and investment, which is several times more stimulative to the economy than making the Bush tax cuts permanent, i.e. permanently cutting taxes. Second, Congress should recognize that to the extent that deficit reduction is needed over the long term, the public heavily favors a balanced approach that includes significant immediate revenue increases and spending cuts, rather than the spending cuts-only approach favored by Congress in recent years. Voters told Washington to get real about taxes because voters themselves are realistic about revenues. The message couldn’t be more clear.

New Poll: Americans Support Ending Bush Tax Cuts for the Rich, Making System More Fair

A new poll from the Pew Research Center reports that Americans believe eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the rich would be both beneficial to the economy and make the tax system more fair. By a two-to-one margin, the public says raising taxes on income over $250,000 would help the economy (44%) rather than hurt it (22%), with (a particularly wise) 24% saying it would make no difference. By a similar 44%-to-21% margin, Americans say this tax increase on the rich would make the tax system more fair rather than less fair (25% say no difference would result).

This new finding from a polling organization with an impeccable record contradicts a recent McClatchy-Marist poll which concludes a majority of Americans favor extending all the Bush tax cuts. As an expert pollster with Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) pointed out, the McClatchy question’s jumbled wording likely left respondents confused as to which groups would be affected by a tax increase. In contrast, the Pew Research Center poll simply asked (PDF): “Do you think raising taxes on income over $250,000 would” help or hurt the economy and make the tax system more or less fair? The Pew Research finding is also in line with other recent surveys, as ATF reminds us, from National Journal and NBC/Wall Street Journal that show most Americans oppose extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich.

As Citizens for Tax Justice has explained, raising taxes on income above $250,000 would result in just 1.9% of all Americans losing some portion of the Bush income tax cuts, and for most, the “loss” would be negligible. For example, an average married couple earning between $250,000 and $300,000 would lose only 2% of their total Bush income tax cuts, or $199, in 2013. This is because all taxpayers—even those in the top income bracket—benefit from the lower tax rates on income below the $250,000 threshold that are set to remain in place under such a plan.

The American public continues to support progressive and fair taxation; we just need our elected leaders to deliver it.

Chart from Pew Research poll overview.

Step Aside, Tea Party - A New Kind of Tax Protest is Here

On Tax Day 2012, thousands of people throughout the country rallied in favor of progressive taxation and against the low (or sometimes zero rates) paid by the wealthiest Americans and corporations. These protests were the latest in the growing progressive tax movement dubbed “Tax Revolt 2.0” for its focus on tax fairness rather than tax cuts.  As one commentator declared, "Tax Day doesn't belong to the Tea Party anymore."

The popularity of these protests should be no surprise considering that 68 percent of Americans believe the current tax system benefits the rich and is unfair to ordinary workers. While efforts by grassroots groups have begun to change the conversation about tax fairness, these tax day 2012 protests reveal a reach and momentum that show no signs of receding.

You could hardly travel around the US on tax day this year without running into one of over 200 rallies including: Los Angeles, Fort Worth, Kansas City, Boston, Duluth, Grand Rapids, Bangor, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, New York City, Ames, Toledo, Kalamazoo, Newark, Seattle, and many, many more.

While the broad theme of the nationwide protests was tax fairness, the targets differed. In Jersey City, NJ for instance, protestors rallied at their local Wells Fargo bank to call out the company for its role as an infamous tax dodger, while protestors in Tuscon, AZ held their rally at a local post office to highlight how the failure to tax wealth results in the loss of jobs and critical public institutions like the Postal Service.

To be sure, the anti-tax lobby is well established, but you gotta’ believe that activists as energetic and creative as these will win the day:


Photo of the "Tax Dodgers" via  D*Unit Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0

Americans Want Fair Taxes. When Will Washington Listen?

According to a CNN/ORC poll, one of many polls released around Tax Day 2012, a solid 68 percent of Americans said the current tax system benefits the rich and is unfair to ordinary workers. While this result is consistent with past poll results, a shocking number of lawmakers in Washington seem indifferent to the public’s hunger for more progressive taxes.

For example, one modest step toward tax fairness is the Buffet Rule, which would impose a minimum tax, equal to 30 percent of income, on millionaires in order to ensure that wealthy investors like Warren Buffett or Mitt Romney do not pay a lower tax rate than middle income Americans. Despite the fact that the Buffett Rule is favored by an overwhelming 72 percent of the American public, it was defeated in the US Senate on Monday and will likely not even come up for a vote in the House of Representatives.

Another tax day poll by Reuters/Ipsos found that 60 percent of Americans believe that tax revenues should play some part in deficit reduction efforts, while only 22 percent believe that spending cuts alone are the solution. This poll also reflects Washington’s huge disconnect with the American public as last year’s deficit reduction deal resulted in trillions of dollars of spending cuts and not a cent of additional revenue.

Even in the arena of corporate tax reform lawmakers find themselves at odds with public sentiment. In its tax day polling, Gallup found that 64 percent of Americans believe that corporations pay too little in taxes, meaning that the public would clearly favor revenue-positive corporate tax reform. And yet Republican and Democratic leaders, including the President, are proposing revenue-neutral corporate tax reform instead.

Washington’s conservative intransigence on tax issues is not going unnoticed by the public. Grassroots movements are spreading in protest of the unfairness of our tax system and pushing for progressive change. Lawmakers will find it increasingly difficult to ignore their constituents, especially as it becomes clear that other types of deficit reduction proposals (cuts in Social Security, Medicare, services for children) are far less popular than progressive tax increases.

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