Kitchen Table Economics

How Americans Feel About Taxes. (Yes, They’re Too High.)

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Tax Day isn’t until April 15th, but Americans are already preparing to pay Uncle Sam. Two out of three taxpayers plan to file their 2016 federal income tax returns this month. Many employees are just waiting on tax paperwork like W-2 forms and mortgage, bank, and investment statements.

As the majority of America pays its share, here a few interesting tax facts:

  • Taxes are confusing. Roughly two-thirds of Americans have someone else prepare their tax return, claiming that the federal tax code is too complicated. As Vox recently described it: “A 2013 Quinnipiac poll found that 64 percent of Americans say they have someone else prepare their federal income tax return and a similar portion say it’s too complicated. So if you asked many of them how U.S. tax policy works right now, they may be stumped.”
  • And too high. Almost 60 percent of Americans agree that federal income taxes are too high, while 37 percent view them as “about right.” In 2012, only 46 percent of Americans complained that taxes are higher than they should be—a more than 10 percent increase in less than five years.
  • But paying taxes is our “civic duty.” That’s what most Americans say, at least. According to a CNN/ORC poll conducted before the 2016 election, 86 percent of registered voters surveyed believe that paying taxes is an American civic duty, while only 12 percent said that taxes are an “unnecessary burden.”
  • Not everyone pays. The Tax Policy Center estimates that more than 45 percent of U.S. households pay no federal income taxes. And the top 2.7 percent of earners pay more than 51 percent of all income taxes.

Now you know more about taxes!