Why Americans Don't Hate the Income Tax

Gallup does a poll on Americans' views of the income tax every year, but this year it actually finds that a majority of Americans think the tax they pay is either "about right" or "too low":

income tax high or low.jpg
But interestingly, the number of people who think the tax they pay is "fair" remains more-or-less unchanged at 60%. This suggests there are people who believe the tax they pay is too high, but nonetheless fair.

Is this cognitive dissonance? I suppose it doesn't have to be, since you can think the income tax is too high for reasons besides fairness. You might, for instance, think the income tax weighs down growth like a grindstone. But the first question is about how much individuals pay -- not whether the tax structure as a whole is too burdensome.

So I'll ask: Is there anyone who thinks the tax they pay is too high, but still fair? And why?


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Presented by

Conor Clarke is the editor, with Michael Kinsley, of Creative Capitalism. He was previously a fellow at The Atlantic and an editor at The Guardian. More

Conor Clarke is the editor, with Michael Kinsley, of Creative Capitalism, an economics blog that was recently published in book form by Simon and Schuster. He was previously a fellow at The Atlantic and an editor at The Guardian. He is also on Twitter.

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