The American Enterprise Institute has released a new public opinion study that focuses on Americans’ historical attitudes to taxes.The study, “Public Opinion on Taxes,” was compiled by senior fellow Karlyn Bowman, who used available polling data to examine how attitudes toward paying taxes have changed over the past half century.

Among the highlights:

  • The personal property tax is a bigger headache for most people than the federal income tax;
  • Today, Democrats lead Republicans as the party better able to handle taxes, a significant change from the past;
  • Pluralities of Americans think their taxes will go up under a Democratic or Republican president;
  • When asked how much of total income should go to taxes, people put the number at 10 to 25 percent;
  • Americans don't like the estate tax;
  • People seem to pay closer attention to the levels of state and local taxes than they do to the federal income tax; and,
  • Ratings of the Internal Revenue Service have improved, though a majority of people would still prefer a root canal to undergoing an IRS audit.

The full study is available at

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