THE STUDY JANUARY 17, 2012
A new survey shows that the vast majority of millionaires agree with Warren Buffett’s calls for the very wealthy to pay more in taxes. There’s just one catch: Most of the survey respondents who sided with Buffett don’t see themselves as part of that very wealthy group. It’s hardly surprising to find support for the idea of somebody else ponying up more in taxes, but the survey does raise an interesting question: Do Americans see their tax burden as fair?
Survey data from Gallup indicates that the country is about evenly split on the question. In a 2011 poll, 50 percent of Americans said their federal income taxes were too high, but 43 percent said they were about right, and 4 percent said they were too low. Interestingly, Gallup notes, 57 percent said they paid a fair amount, a greater proportion than said they pay the right amount—“suggesting more people dislike what they pay than feel it is unjust.” 59 percent of all respondents said that upper-income people pay too little, but upper-income people were the most likely to feel unfairly burdened. Of those respondents with incomes of $250,000 or more, fully two-thirds said their taxes were “too high.” Only around half of the respondents in the other income groups said the same thing about their own tax burden.