With the April 15 filing deadline approaching, Americans’ top complaint about the tax system is not the amount that they pay in taxes. Rather, it is the feeling that some corporations and wealthy people do not pay their fair share of taxes.
When those who cite multiple frustrations with the tax system are asked what bothers them most, a similar hierarchy of concerns is evident: About a quarter of the public (28%) says they are most bothered by the feeling that corporations do not pay their fair share and 25% say the same about wealthy people not paying their fair share. Fewer (19%) point to the complexity of the tax system, while much smaller percentages cite the amount they pay in taxes (7%) and the feeling that the poor don’t pay their fair share (4%).
Conservative Republicans are the only ideological group to say they are as bothered by the poor not paying their fair share of taxes as by the wealthy not paying their fair share (38% each). Among moderate and liberal Republicans, 64% are bothered a lot by the wealthy not paying their fair share, while 20% say the same about the poor not paying their fair share. Among Democrats, 72% are bothered a lot by the wealthy not paying their fair share of taxes; just 14% express the same concern about the poor failing to pay their fair .
Republicans, especially conservative Republicans, have become more supportive of overhauling the tax system while Democrats have become less supportive. As a result, Republicans are now 18 points more likely than Democrats to say that the tax system needs to be fundamentally revamped: 66% of Republicans say this, compared with 48% of Democrats. Independents’ views are unchanged since 2011; currently, 63% say the tax system should be completely changed.
The public sees the nation’s tax system as deeply flawed: 59% say “there is so much wrong with the federal tax system that Congress should completely change it.” Just 38% think the system “works pretty well” and requires “only minor changes.” These opinions have changed little since 2011.