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Most Americans Say Tax System Is Unfair: Pew Research

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By midnight tomorrow, April 18, most Americans will have filed their tax returns for 2016, and according to a new survey from Pew Research Center, the majority will believe that the tax system is unfair.

More specifically, 56% of those surveyed say the system is not at all fair (27%) or not too fair (29%), and that view is shared almost equally among Democrats or those leaning Democratic (54%) and Republicans or those leaning Republican (58%), according to Pew Research.

(Related on ThinkAdvisor: Sens. Warren, Sanders Push Bill for Free Tax Filing)

Despite these views, 54% of all respondents say that they are paying their fair share of taxes (40% say they’re paying more than that).

Democrats and Republicans differ widely on the reasons why they believe the system is unfair. More than 7 in 10 Democrats say corporations and wealthy Americans don’t pay their fair share, while about 4 in 10 Republicans do.

(Related on ThinkAdvisor: Senators Float Bill to End Tax Write-Offs for Corporate Fines)

The views of Democrats on the tax bill for corporations and the wealthy are little changed from two years ago, while Republicans are less concerned about both issues today than they were in 2015, when about 50% were bothered.

Overall about 60% of all respondents in 2017 say corporations and wealthy Americans don’t pay their fair share in federal taxes.

Republicans and Democrats also differed about their personal tax situation, the tax bill for poor people and the complexity of the tax system.

Thirty-five percent of Republicans said they’re bothered by the amount of taxes they pay compared with 21% of Democrats, and almost 50% of Republicans are unhappy with the complexity of the tax system compared to 39% of Democrats.

Almost twice as many Republicans (26%) as Democrats (15%) say that some poor people don’t pay their fair share, but that concern was the lowest ranked worry for both groups.

Breaking down responses by income level shows that the widest differences between wealthier taxpayers (family incomes of $100,000 or more) and poorer taxpayers (family incomes under $30,000) had to do with the complexity of the tax system and sentiment about corporations and wealthy people paying their fair share.

Slightly more than half of those families with incomes of $100,000 or more are bothered by the complexity of the tax system compared with 34% of those earning less than $30,000. Close to 55% of those wealthier taxpayers are concerned that corporations and wealthy people aren’t paying their fair share while more than 65% of those earning less than $30,000 believed that.

Altogether 1,501 adults were surveyed between April 5 and April 11 of this year.

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