A new poll from the Pew Research Center reports that Americans believe eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the rich would be both beneficial to the economy and make the tax system more fair. By a two-to-one margin, the public says raising taxes on income over $250,000 would help the economy (44%) rather than hurt it (22%), with (a particularly wise) 24% saying it would make no difference. By a similar 44%-to-21% margin, Americans say this tax increase on the rich would make the tax system more fair rather than less fair (25% say no difference would result).
This new finding from a polling organization with an impeccable record contradicts a recent McClatchy-Marist poll which concludes a majority of Americans favor extending all the Bush tax cuts. As an expert pollster with Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) pointed out, the McClatchy question’s jumbled wording likely left respondents confused as to which groups would be affected by a tax increase. In contrast, the Pew Research Center poll simply asked (PDF): “Do you think raising taxes on income over $250,000 would” help or hurt the economy and make the tax system more or less fair? The Pew Research finding is also in line with other recent surveys, as ATF reminds us, from National Journal and NBC/Wall Street Journal that show most Americans oppose extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich.
As Citizens for Tax Justice has explained, raising taxes on income above $250,000 would result in just 1.9% of all Americans losing some portion of the Bush income tax cuts, and for most, the “loss” would be negligible. For example, an average married couple earning between $250,000 and $300,000 would lose only 2% of their total Bush income tax cuts, or $199, in 2013. This is because all taxpayers—even those in the top income bracket—benefit from the lower tax rates on income below the $250,000 threshold that are set to remain in place under such a plan.
The American public continues to support progressive and fair taxation; we just need our elected leaders to deliver it.
Chart from Pew Research poll overview.