- Days left

Most Americans Say the Rich Don't Pay Enough Taxes

Most Americans say the rich don't pay enough taxesBy HOPE YEN

(AP) - As the income gap between rich and poor widens, a majority of Americans say the growing divide is bad for the country and believe that wealthy people are paying too little in taxes, according to a new survey.

The poll released Monday by the Pew Research Center points to a particular challenge for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, whose party's policies are viewed by a wide majority as favoring the rich over the middle class and poor.

The poll found that many Americans believe rich people to be intelligent and hardworking but also greedy and less honest than the average American. Nearly six in 10, or 58 percent, say the rich don't pay enough in taxes, while 26 percent believe the rich pay their fair share and 8 percent say they pay too much.

Even among those who describe themselves as "upper class" or "upper middle class," more than half - or 52 percent - said upper-income Americans don't pay enough in taxes; only 10 percent said they paid too much. This upper tier was more likely to say they are more financially secure now than 10 years ago - 62 percent, compared to 44 percent for those who identified themselves as middle class and 29 percent for the lower class. They are less likely to report problems in paying rent or mortgage, losing a job, paying for medical care or other bills and cutting back on household expenses.

The findings come at the start of this week's Republican National Convention and as both Romney and President Barack Obama seek to appeal to a broad swath of financially struggling voters who identify as middle class. Romney supports an extension of Bush-era tax cuts for everyone including the wealthiest 2 percent, and says his policies will benefit the middle class by boosting the economy and creating jobs.
"The fact that Romney may be viewed as wealthy doesn't necessarily pose problems for his candidacy," said Kim Parker, associate director of Pew Social & Demographic Trends, noting that people see the wealthy as having both positive and negative attributes. "The challenge for Romney lies more in the fact that large majorities say if he is elected president, his policies would likely benefit the wealthy."

The results reinforce a tide of recent economic data showing a widening economic divide. America's middle class has been shrinking in the stagnant economy and poverty is now approaching 1960s highs, while wealth concentrates at the top. A separate Pew survey earlier this year found that tensions between the rich and poor were increasing and at their most intense level in nearly a quarter-century.

In fact, well-off people do shoulder a big share of the tax burden. Though households earning over $1 million annually comprise just 0.3 percent of all taxpayers, they pay 20 percent of all federal taxes the government is projected to collect this year, according to the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan group that studies tax policy. The figures included income, payroll and estate taxes. In contrast, households earning $50,000 to $75,000 a year accounted for 12 percent of taxpayers and contributed 9 percent of federal taxes, the center's data showed. Some 46 percent of households pay no federal income tax at all, although they do pay payroll, excise and other taxes.

According to the latest findings, about 63 percent of Americans say the GOP favors the rich over the middle class and poor, and 71 percent say Romney's election would be good for wealthy people. A smaller share, 20 percent, says the same about the Democratic Party. More Americans - 60 percent - say if Obama is re-elected his policies will benefit the poor, while half say they'll help the middle class and 37 percent say they'll boost the wealthy.

"The Great Recession was not an equal opportunity disemployer," said Sheldon Danziger, a public policy professor at the University of Michigan who describes the gap between rich and poor as the widest in decades. "College graduates, whites and middle-aged workers had fewer and shorter layoffs than high school graduates, blacks, Hispanics and younger workers. And, only a small percentage of the rich work in the hardest-hit industries, like construction and manufacturing."

About 65 percent of Americans say the gap between rich and poor has gotten wider in the past decade, while 20 percent believe it has stayed the same and 7 percent say the gap has gotten smaller. Separately, 57 percent say a widening income gap is a bad thing for society; just 3 percent say it is a good thing.

Asked to estimate how much a family of four would need to earn to be considered wealthy in their area, the median amount given by survey respondents was $150,000. For middle class, the median amount was $70,000.

Many Americans see rich people as more likely to be intelligent (43 percent) and hardworking (42 percent) than average Americans. But the rich are also seen as more likely to be greedy (55 percent). Thirty-four percent of those surveyed say the rich are less likely to be honest than the average person; just 12 percent say the rich are more likely to be honest.

The Pew survey involved telephone interviews with 2,508 adults conducted from July 16 to 26. It has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.

___

AP Deputy Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta and reporter Alan Fram contributed to this report.

___

Online:

Pew Research Center: http://pewsocialtrends.org/

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Getting out of debt

Everyone hates debt. Get out of it.

View Course »

What is Inflation?

Why do prices go up?

View Course »

TurboTax Articles

When the IRS Classifies Your Business as a Hobby

If your business claims a net loss for too many years, or fails to meet other requirements, the IRS may classify it as a hobby, which would prevent you from claiming a loss related to the business. If the IRS classifies your business as a hobby, you'll have to prove that you had a valid profit motive if you want to claim those deductions.

What is IRS Form 8917?

If you, your spouse or dependents attended post-secondary school, you may be able to deduct a portion of the tuition and fees by reporting it on IRS Form 8717.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

184 Comments

Filter by:
Bill

Romney pays more in income taxes than 99% of all Americans -
How much more should he pay?

PS - Harry Reid refuses to release his income tax returns - could this be because he has been VERY influential in writing the tax laws for many years. (By the way, Romney was not writing or approving the tax laws that he obeys. Do you happen to pay more than you have to?)

September 23 2012 at 8:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Roy Austin Smith

vitsing: no one couldn't have told it better. you got it right. I have tried to get a tax put on alochol for years. A tax that could be use for treatment of drug and alcohol addicts The senators and rep. do not want to talk about it. Drug raids bring in millions. i have tried to get them to use this as treatment for addict. no they want to throw it away. they have a very high tax on tobacco. it is used for the government to throw away. Addicts should be treated instead of thrown in jail. Dealers should be convicted with long sentences are maybe just shot. they thrown addicts in jail and take everything they have. when their money runs out, they kick them out of jail and on the streets to start the process over. The dealers should be stopped. the illegal immigrants, or called them like they are Mexicans, come in to this town with a sack of dope. they pay no income taxes, nof medicare, no ss and get free medical, free rx, and almost free food ande the taxpayers pay for it. Most will not take a job if income tax, ss, medicare is held out. the employers that hire them should be jailed. we have a few around that either have green cards or have gotten citizenship. They go to work at least five days a week, pay their taxes and bother no one. Bammys children as he has called them do just the oppisite.

September 22 2012 at 1:33 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Vitsing

This argument continues to get really old!! What is enough and what is fair share? I am middle class and retired, a lot of my retirement income comes from dividends and capital gains.

Almost all of the 401(k), 403(b), IRA, State retirement funds, and Pensions are invested in funds that need interest and dividends for future payouts.

While Obama runs around telling us there will be no tax increases for those making less than $250,000. he lies and thinks "We-the-People" are stupid.

His first act was to increase taxes on tobacco which disproportionately impacts lower middle class and poor that tend to smoke more than than other income groups.

Next on the agenda was Cap and Trade which stalled in Congress. However, he was able to ignore Congress and have the EPA implement much more strict emission regulations. While not a "Tax" who pays for this increase in Electricity and gas costs. You got it "We the People" - if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it's probably a duck.

$800 Billion + wasted on a "Stimulus" package that was not "Shovel Ready" and really had next too or no impact on jump starting the Economy. While not a "Tax" who pays to cover the Stimulus costs. You got it "We the People" falling on the next generation (our kids and their kids.

I could go on about Obamacare Taxes; however, I think you all get the point the middle class and seniors are screwed. Who pays to cover Obamacare? You got it "We the People".

$16 Trillion in debt and someone has to pay the bill. You got it "We the People".

September 22 2012 at 3:58 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
jude

Stimulus and bailouts.
Where did all that money go? It went to Democrat contributors, organizations (ACORN), and unions -- including billions of dollars to save or create jobs of government employees across the country. It went to save GM and Chrysler so that their employees could keep paying union dues. It went to AIG so that Goldman Sachs could be bailed out (after giving Obama almost $1 million in contributions). A staggering $125 billion went to teachers (thereby protecting their union dues). (many belong to the S.E.I.U Global Union?why)
All those public employees will vote loyally Democrat to protect their bloated salaries and pensions that are bankrupting America. The country goes broke, future generations face a bleak future, but Obama, the Democrat Party, government, and the unions grow more powerful.
The ends justify the means. Raise taxes on small business owners, high-income earners, and job creators. Put the entire burden on only the top 20 percent of taxpayers, redistribute the income, punish success, and reward those who did nothing to deserve it (except vote for Obama).

September 19 2012 at 9:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ha6ai

This is an absurd "article". The "rich" already pay almost ALL the taxes.

Demonizing successful Americans is something only Communists do.

Pitting the "poor" against the "rich" is something only Communists do.

Trying to distract Americans from the utter disaster of the Obama-Democrat economy is something only ..... well, you know.

August 29 2012 at 4:20 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
democracks0

wonder if Harry Reid the obstructionist blocked more job bills today.

The democrook party of know nothing and do nothing has got to go.

August 28 2012 at 6:45 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
democracks0

Rich people like the Obamas haven't paid their fair share in years.

August 28 2012 at 5:37 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
democracks0

Mitt Romney paid millions in taxes. Freeloading Obamites paid nothing and continue to take from the tax payers. When are the freeloading Obamites going to start paying their fair share!!!!!

Obama even got a $25,000.00 refund!

August 28 2012 at 5:36 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
democracks0

Obamites thinks it's BS that Obama hasn't met with his jobs council. I think it's BS too. It's been over 7 months now since Obama has met with them. It's a bunch of BS that Obamas lasered focused on jobs too.

August 28 2012 at 5:35 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
democracks0

If the democrooks really wanted to roll the tax rates back they would have done so when Obama, Pelosi and Reid controlled everything. Hmm they're all rich. I wonder if that's why they didn't do it.

August 28 2012 at 5:33 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to democracks0's comment
gmydogbud

Heard that Harry Reid earns one hundred and nienty some thousand dollars per year - yet is worth over one hundred million dollars. Wonder how dear old Harry managed that - wonder if insider trading had anything to do with it?

August 28 2012 at 7:40 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply