Taxes necessary, but not necessarily fair

Paying taxes is as American as mom and apple pie. According to our latest poll results, 92 percent of Americans understand the necessity of paying taxes and feel that it is everyone's duty to pay their fair share.

However, many think the system is unfair. Three in five respondents (60 percent) think the tax system is skewed to benefit the rich.

Other findings:
Two-thirds of Americans would prefer to maintain control over their tax returns (65 percent) rather than let the government prepare their returns, if given that option.
Even though two-thirds claim to feel comfortable with tax planning (67 percent), nearly four in 10 (38 percent) look forward to getting a big tax refund each year because they have more money withheld from their paychecks than necessary. This amounts to a tax-free loan to Uncle Sam. Don't expect reciprocity.
Nearly three out of 10 Americans (28 percent) admit they feel clueless when it comes to doing their taxes.

Bankrate commissioned GfK Roper to conduct a random survey of Americans' attitudes about taxes as part of this month's focus in our yearlong Financial Literacy series.

Taxes are important

Americans 'get' taxes
"Despite our complaints about paying taxes, people overwhelmingly understand their necessity and feel it is a duty to pay our fair share," says Bankrate's senior financial analyst Greg McBride.


Even the tax policy director at Americans for Tax Reform, the group calling for all incumbents and candidates to sign its no-new-taxes pledge, agrees with three of the four statements shown in the adjacent table.

Says Ryan Ellis, the tax policy director who is an enrolled agent as well as a tax lobbyist: "Most people, of course, think that taxes are necessary, that they shouldn't be abolished and that everyone should pay their fair share. Even the most radical anti-government position -- which I share -- anticipates a border-securing military, a crime-preventing police and a civil/criminal court system. Less than that and you're in the Dark Ages."

-- Posted: Dec. 17, 2007

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