Tax poll: Is the middle class paying too much?

Posted at 3:38 PM, Apr 16, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-16 15:38:14-04

(CNN) — Just under half of all Americans (49%) believe the middle class pays too much in taxes, according to a new Gallup survey released Tuesday, the deadline for income earners to file their tax returns.

That level is up from 42% last year and marks the highest number since 1999, when 59% felt the middle class was dishing out more cash to the government than needed.

The uptick over the past year comes after Congress and President Barack Obama let the so-called Bush tax cuts expire last year, meaning the tax rate for 2013 income increased to 39.6% from 35%. The tax hike affected individuals making more than $400,000 and households making at least $450,000.

Capital gains taxes and payroll taxes have also increased.

The Gallup survey indicates there’s been little change in the number of those who believe the wealthiest people give up too much of their paycheck. Thirteen percent feel that way this year, compared to 11% last year, according to the poll.

Rather, a strong majority (61%) feel that the nation’s highest income earners pay too little, while 24% believe they pay their fair share.

As for those whose income falls in low tax brackets, 41% of Americans say lower-income earners pay too much in taxes, while 33% say they pay their fair share and 23% believe they don’t pay enough.

Not surprisingly, there’s a partisan split in attitudes about taxes, according to the survey. Forty percent of Republicans say lower-income people pay too little in taxes, compared to 11% of Democrats.

When it comes to top income earners, 21% of Republicans–who traditionally lobby for low taxes in general–say the nation’s wealthiest are paying too much in taxes. Interestingly, a plurality of Republicans (45%) say upper-income people pay too little in taxes.

Five percent of Democrats say the wealthy pay too much, while 76% believe they pay too little.

And in a trend that’s changed little over the past decade, two-thirds of Americans believe corporations don’t pay enough in taxes. Twenty percent think they pay the right amount, while 8% think they pay too little.

Gallup interviewed 1,026 adults by telephone from April 3-6. The overall sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points.

CNN’s Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

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