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Federal income tax is now the most hated tax

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Photo by Liza Summer

After a couple of years of COVID-19 pandemic disruptions, the 2023 tax filing season was, for the most part, pretty smooth.

But that apparently didn't do the federal tax system much good, at least from a reputational standpoint.

The annual Gallup poll on the U.S. economy and personal finance found that the federal income tax now is considered the worst of all taxes. It bumped local property tax from the top spot.


Of course, that view might have been influenced by Gallup's timing. It asked its tax questions from April 3 to 25, right as millions were finishing up their annual filing tasks.

One thing that also contributed to the increased disdain for the Internal Revenue Code is the finding that 60 percent of those surveyed said the amount of federal income tax they pay is too high. That was up six percentage points from a year ago, and 15 points higher than the answer to that question in 2018 and 2019.

Tax unfairness: The fairness factor also took a hit.

Gallup says that the majority in it tax/finance surveys over the years have typically believed that the income tax they pay is fair. Not now.

Forty-six percent of respondents this year said the income tax they pay is fair, similar to the record low of 45 percent in 1999.

And more than half, 51 percent, said their taxes are not fair. That's the highest Gallup has measured to date.

Political positions: As you might expect, the answers reflected the United States' partisan divide.

"Americans' opinions of federal income taxes, which had been relatively accepting for the past two decades, have become more critical," said Jeffrey M. Jones, the Gallup senior editor who is in charge of research and analysis for the company's U.S. polling. "It is unclear to what extent this is a function of Americans' paying more in federal income taxes in dollar terms, reaction to larger macroeconomic factors such as inflation and the health of the U.S. economy, or misperception of the reality of their personal tax situation, possibly influenced by their political beliefs."


Seventy-one percent of Republicans are more likely to believe their taxes are too high under a Democratic president than they were in 2020 when the Oval Office was a member of the GOP.

Independents also believe they are paying too much in tax, with that view going up by 14 points this year. But that's just about half as large as the increase among Republicans that their taxes are too high.

Democrats' attitudes, however, essentially haven't changed. Last year, 40 percent said their taxes are too high; that inched up to 41 percent this year.

Much of the recent shift is attributable to Republicans' more negative views of income taxes under a Democratic president than a Republican one, although Republicans have been more critical of taxes under President Joe Biden than they were under President Barrack Obama, added Jones.

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Ray Rheault

I'm 70 y.o. and I'm pretty sure my income taxes have never been lower, as a percentage of my income, than they are now.
No one ever went broke underestimating the knowledge of the average American when it comes to the workings of their own government.

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