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Americans More Likely to Agree Middle Class Pays Too Much in Taxes

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

Do you dread tax season? Do you think the taxes you pay are too high? Well, you are certainly not alone and there is a good chance the people you interact with on daily a basis agree with you. According to the latest Gallup poll, Americans are more likely to say low- and middle-income households pay too much in taxes. However, survey takers were also divided on the subject.

Very few people are likely to say middle-income households pay too little in taxes, but what Americans are more divided on is whether or not these households pay too much to the government or the fair amount. According to the most recent poll from Gallup, published on April 14, 2014, nearly half of Americans -- 49 percent -- believe middle-income earners pay too much, while 42 percent believe they pay their fair share.

However, Americans are less likely to agree on low-income households. Forty-one percent (41%) of survey takers said low-income earners pay too much, while 33 percent said they pay their fair share. Interestingly enough, 23 percent said the lowest wage earners don't pay enough in taxes. This number went from 13 percent in 2008 to 22 percent in 2010. Since then, it has hovered around this number, reaching 24 percent in 2012 and dropping to 19 percent in 2013.

The one group most Americans are likely to agree on are upper-income earners. According to the poll, 61 percent of respondents said the wealthiest taxpayers don't pay enough in taxes, which is only slightly less than the percentage of respondents who said corporations pay too little in taxes -- 66 percent.

What is not likely to surprise many is Democrats are most likely to think upper-income earners don't pay enough at 76 percent, while Republicans are least likely to agree at 45 percent. Still, more Republicans (despite the stereotype) are likely to say the wealthy pay too little as opposed to their fair share or too much -- 31 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

Gallup concludes that the reasons more Americans believe the middle class pays too much in taxes could vary, and the increase may be driven by news reports abut higher taxes. The ongoing debate between Democrats and Republicans over wage inequality may also be playing a big part.

Even though the economy is recovering, job growth is barely keeping pace with population growth. The middle class is shrinking. According to Paul Taylor and the Pew Research Center in the book,

The Next America, 85 percent of Americans now believe it is tougher to live a middle-class lifestyle than it was a decade ago.

We are in the midst of the longest period of wage stagnation in American history. Gone are the mid-level blue- and white-collar jobs that once allowed the middle class to thrive and perhaps it is just now beginning to set in that many of these jobs are not coming back. The workforce, in the words of Taylor, "has begun to resemble an hourglass — bulging at the top and bottom; contracting in the middle."

Perhaps seeing the plight of the middle income-earner has reversed people's opinion of the middle class and how much they pay in taxes.

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