Death and taxes may be inevitable, but taxes, at least, can withstand a little finessing – with broad public approval.
Less than a week from the federal income tax deadline, Americans overwhelmingly support taxpayers doing whatever they can – within the law, that is – to trim what they owe Uncle Sam. A vast 85 percent say dodge away, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds.
The federal tax system isn’t popular; 56 percent of Americans view it unfavorably overall. But at 85 percent, support for minimizing taxes legally isn’t about animus toward the system. It reflects more, perhaps, an ethos of paying your share – but no more than the rules require.
The Internal Revenue Service, for its part, is more popular than the tax system it administers. This poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that about half of Americans see the IRS favorably, half unfavorably, 49-48 percent, better than one might expect for an organization that has to carry out the task of tax collection.
GROUPS and INTENSITY – Majorities in some groups even view the IRS favorably – Democrats, liberals, young adults, racial and ethnic minorities and unmarried adults among them. Among “very” conservatives, meanwhile, dislike of the IRS and the tax system peak at 68 and 66 percent, respectively.
Intensity of opinion is more negative than positive for both, but especially for the tax system: Three in 10 see it strongly unfavorably, vs. just 9 percent strongly favorably.
Stronger still is the belief that it’s OK for Americans to do “all they can within the law to lower their taxes.” Not only do 85 percent approve, but 58 percent approve strongly – with strong approval highest among Republicans, conservatives, older adults and college graduates.
Other ABC/Post polls have found discontent with the tax system. In January, 88 percent supported restructuring the system overall. And last month, 56 percent backed trying to avoid budget cuts by limiting the tax deductions available to higher-income Americans.
This poll shows the flipside of that view: While a change in tax rules may be preferred, given current law, paying the least you can legally is seen widely as fair game.
METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cell phone April 3-7, 2013, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,022 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points. The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by SSRS/Social Science Research Solutions of Media, Pa.
Analysis by Gregory Holyk and Gary Langer.