Americans and taxes: the shocking truth

You know how much Americans hate taxes? You know how Americans will vote for any politician who cuts taxes, or promises to do so? You know how taxes are a winning issue only for Republicans?

You know wrong.

A new poll of 1,000 likely voters reveals Americans are angry about taxes– not because they believe they pay too much, but because they think the wealthy and the corporations don’t pay their fair share.

Voters were asked what bothers them the most about the current tax system. Only 14 percent said it was the large amount they pay. Thirty-one percent identified the complexity of the tax system, and 46 percent said it was the failure of the rich and the corporations to pay their fair share.

Further, voters believe corporations (60 percent) and the wealthy (51 percent) are paying less than their fair share of taxes, while only 39 percent think their own families are paying more than their fair share.

And while 67 percent of voters are very angry about “corporations that keep accounts in countries like Bermuda to avoid paying taxes, but still receive government contracts,” only 19 percent are similarly enraged by “poor people getting handouts from the government without contributing anything in return.”

What this suggests is that the conventional wisdom– that taxes are the Democrats’ third rail– may need some rethinking. As Washington Post political columnist David Broder wrote, “The implication of this analysis is that a Democrat proposing major reforms of the tax system could trump Bush’s record of tax-cutting and his promise of more such reductions to come.”

Instead of simply opposing the recent Bush tax cuts, it’s time for Democrats to take the issue of tax fairness and run with it.