Split Opinion on Tax Proposals; The Issue: Whose Ox is Gored

Feb 9, 2012 7:01am

Americans broadly support increasing taxes on businesses that move jobs overseas and on the very wealthy. But two other tax proposals – cutting taxes for companies that bring overseas jobs here, and boosting the capital gains tax – are much less popular.

Seventy-two percent of those participating in an ABC News/Washington Post poll support raising taxes on people with household incomes of more than $1 million a year. And 73 percent favor raising taxes on businesses that move manufacturing jobs overseas. In his State of the Union address last month, President Obama proposed removing tax incentives available to such companies.

But another of Obama’s proposals, reducing taxes on companies that bring jobs here, gets substantially lower support, 51 percent, suggesting hesitancy among some to support cutting business taxes even when job creation is proffered as a payoff.

Additionally, indicating general resistance to broad-based personal tax increases, just two in 10 are in favor of increasing capital gains taxes on profits made by selling stocks and bonds. Given information that the current capital gains tax rate is less than the earned income tax rate for many taxpayers, support for increasing the capital gains tax rises, but still just to 36 percent.

Previously released results from this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, found broad suspicions of the tax system, with Americans by 68 to 28 percent saying they believe it favors the wealthy and, by 66 to 30 percent, that Mitt Romney is not paying his fair share of taxes, given his paying about a 14 percent tax rate on a 2010 income of about $22 million.

That income came chiefly from capital gains and dividends, and indeed support for raising the capital gains tax, with tax-rate information provided, is higher (45 percent) among people who believe Romney is not paying his fair share than it is among those who believe he is paying his fair share of taxes, among whom 19 percent favor a hike in the capital gains tax.

Similarly, among people who question Romney’s tax burden, 84 percent support raising taxes on millionaires; among those who say he is paying enough, support for a higher tax on the very wealthy falls to 48 percent.

Views on tax policy also are closely linked to views on the fairness of the current system overall. For example, among people who believe  the tax system favors the wealthy, nearly half support raising the capital gains tax rate, and 86 percent support a higher tax on millionaires. Support falls sharply among people who think the tax system favors the middle class or treats both groups equally.

GROUPS – These views vary by ideology and political allegiance. Fifty-two percent of liberals favor raising the capital gains tax; that slips to 41 percent of moderates and then drops to  24 percent of conservatives. Similarly, support is more than twice as high among Democrats, at 48 percent, than it is among Republicans, at 21 percent. And it ranges from 56 percent among strong opponents of the Tea Party political movement to  17 percent among strong supporters.

At the same time, majorities across the spectrum favor tax penalties for companies that ship jobs abroad – 85, 73 and 67 percent of liberals, moderates and conservatives, respectively. These views are notably similar among Democrats, independents and Republicans alike; 78, 70 and 73 percent, respectively, support high taxes on employers who shift jobs outside the United States.

Finally, majorities across political groups support raising taxes on millionaires, albeit at sharply different levels – 89 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of independents and 57 percent of Republicans. Among strong Tea Party supporters this drops to just 32 percent.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Feb. 1-4, 2012, among a random national sample of 1,000 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results have a margin of sampling error of 4.0 points for the full sample. The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y.

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