Tax system concerns aren’t personal

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Americans are not happy with our overall tax system, but they aren’t that upset when it comes to their own tax bills.

Fifty-nine percent of U.S. taxpayers recently surveyed by Pew Research Center say, “There is so much wrong with the federal tax system that Congress should completely change it.” Only 38 percent believe the system “works pretty well.”

These latest tax system opinions are basically the same as they were in 2011, according to the think tank.

The biggest problem, however, is not the check people write to the U.S. Treasury each April. Less than a third, 27 percent, say they are bothered “a lot” by the amount they personally pay in taxes.

But 64 percent say they are concerned that some corporations do not pay their fair share of taxes. Almost as many, 61 percent, also are worried that some wealthy people aren’t paying their fair share of taxes.

Only 20 percent report being concerned a great deal by the feeling that some poor people are not paying all the taxes they should.

And, not surprising, a substantial number of folks, 44 percent, told Pew pollsters that the tax code complexity is a concern.

Partisan tax perceptions

Also unsurprisingly, attitudes about taxes differ among Democrats and Republicans.

In the 2015 survey, Republicans are 20 points more likely than Democrats to say they are paying more than their fair share in taxes, 50 percent vs. 30 percent. Four years ago, a Pew poll found that members of the two major parties were nearly identical in saying they paid more than their fair share: 37 percent of Republicans saying so, compared to 38 percent of Democrats.

As for who is or isn’t paying taxes, 75 percent of Democrats today are bothered a lot by the feeling that corporations do not pay their fair share of taxes. Another 72 percent in that party say they believe wealthy people are not paying their fair share.

That’s not such a big concern of Republicans. Fifty-two percent are bothered a lot by some corporations not paying enough taxes. Only 45 percent in the GOP are worried about wealthy individuals not paying their fair share. Even though Republicans seem less concerned than Democrats about these two issues, they still rank the highest among the GOP’s concerns.

As for tax complexity, a little more than half (53 percent) of Republicans say they are bothered a lot by the complexity of the tax system. That’s a major concern of just 31 percent of Democrats.

What say you? Are the wealthy and corporate barons getting away with not paying enough taxes? Are poor people sliding by when it comes to dealing with the Internal Revenue Service? And are you paying too little, too much or just the right amount in taxes?

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Veteran contributing editor Kay Bell is the author of the book “The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes” and co-author of the e-book “Future Millionaires’ Guidebook.”