NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 20, 2004

Poll data suggest that the wealthy are already paying more in taxes than the bulk of Americans think they should. A Zogby poll last year asked people what a fair tax rate would be for a person making $1 million per year -- an income that would put someone in the top tenth of the top one percent of taxpayers. Seventeen percent of Americans said that 10 percent was the most one should pay and 29 percent said that 20 percent was the maximum.

  • In other words, 46 percent of the American people think that millionaires today are already overtaxed, paying about 28 percent of their income to the federal government when 20 percent is the most they ought to pay.
  • Only 21 percent of people in the survey agreed with Sen. John Kerry that tax rates should be higher than 30 percent.

Lest one think that this is an isolated result, there are other polls with similar findings. A 2001 Fox News poll asked people the highest percentage of taxes anyone should have to pay.

  • Some 52 percent said 20 percent was the most anyone should pay.
  • Only 9 percent of people favored rates above 30 percent.
  • Another Fox News poll in 1999 found 65 percent of people saying that 20 percent should be the maximum tax rate.

One possible reason is that many Americans think they have a chance of becoming rich some day. A Gallup poll last year found that 31 percent of Americans thought they would become rich. Among those between the ages of 18 and 29, the figure jumped to 51 percent.

Source: Bruce Bartlett, "Kerry Tax Plan: Punish the Productive," National Center for Policy Analysis, October 20, 2004.


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