Fewer than one person in three believes they get their money’s worth for all of the taxes they pay annually, according to a new survey.
Pollster Scott Rasmussen, in a survey released Tax Day – April 15 – said just 27 percent of respondents believed they got their money’s worth, but 61 percent said they didn’t.
Fully two-thirds of respondents – 66 percent – felt that taxes were too high, while a paltry five percent said they weren’t high enough. Just over one in four said Americans were taxed at the right amount.
“Twenty-eight percent of Republicans [feel] they get their money’s worth as do 29 percent of Democrats and 22 percent of unaffiliateds,” Rasmussen said.
Thirty-seven percent said income taxes were the most unfair of all taxes, while 27 percent chose property taxes. About 17 percent chose sales taxes while 11 percent chose social security taxes.
“Another finding suggests that people grossly underestimate the amount they pay in social security taxes,” the survey said. “For most wage earners, FICA takes a bigger bite out of their paycheck than income taxes. Still, only nine percent of Americans believe that they pay more in social security than in other taxes (the percentage is identical for working Americans),” while “57 percent believe that the income tax is their biggest bill followed by property taxes (18 percent) and sales taxes (10 percent).”
Fully two-thirds of respondents said they thought taxes should be paid on a “pro-rata basis.”
“Sixty-six percent believe that those who earn twice as much should pay twice as much in taxes,” while “62 percent believe that someone who earns half as much should pay half as much in taxes,” the survey said.
Rasmussen also found that most people don’t believe performance is based on the level of taxation. For instance, “35 percent say that if taxes are raised on gasoline, people will buy less gas,” but 54 percent disagree.
“However, people do accept another perspective held by economists that corporations don’t pay taxes,” said Rasmussen. “Eighty-eight percent believe that if taxes were raised on jet fuel, the airlines will pass the increase along to consumers.”
Slightly more than half – 55 percent – say they believe that people who earn twice as much pay less than their fair share of the tax burden. At the same time, a solid plurality – 43 percent – believe that those who earn half as much also pay less than half as much in taxes.
“Rather than [offering] support for class warfare arguments, these results indicate a perception that middle class Americans are being squeezed for the benefit of everyone else,” Rasmussen said.
That view is not supported by fact, however. According to a report released today, analysts who studied this year’s tax burden said middle income families were paying the lowest share of federal taxes since 1957, with upper- and lower-income families paying more. Also, middle income earners are being audited at a rate far lower than other income groups.
This year’s Internal Revenue Service tax code is also the most cumbersome and complex ever: It embodies 17,000 pages and more than 2.8 million words.
One estimate said it takes about 29 hours to digest the IRS’ 1040 form and do the required record keeping.
Campaigning in Iowa, President Bush said he hopes that temporary tax cuts passed last year could be made permanent by Congress. Democrats have blamed the Bush/GOP-backed tax cuts for worsening last year’s economic recession.
Claiming his 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax cut package was “one of the reasons we’re seeing encouraging signs in the economy,” Bush said “it’s going to be hard to plan your future if you think all of a sudden these things get kicked in full time, and then go away.”
Lawmakers “need to make these cuts permanent,” Bush said.
Under current Senate rules, the entire package of cuts will expire in 2010 unless Congress acts to make them permanent. Tax chaos could reign in 2011, analysts predict, since the old tax rates eliminated last year would be viewed as increases.