In the first of many expected “Tea Party” buzz kills today, a new Gallup Poll finds that 48 percent of Americans say the amount of income tax they pay is “about right,” edging out those that complain the rate is too high.
The pollster’s annual Tax Day survey notes a radical departure in this year’s report — taxpayers have the most rosy view of paying their fair share of government revenue since 1956.
Why the change of heart? Gallup explains:
Generally speaking, Americans seem to take a more positive view of their taxes when the country is at war. From 1997 through 2001, the percentage saying their taxes were fair ranged from 45% to 51%. In early 2002, after the United States had begun military operations in Afghanistan in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 58% said their taxes were fair. After the Iraq war began in 2003, the percentage increased to 64%, and it has been above 60% ever since.
Going back even further, Gallup asked the same question in the 1940s. While the country was still fighting World War II, 85% or more of Americans said the taxes they paid were fair. The first postwar measurement, in 1946, saw this percentage tumble to 62%.
Curiously, that age-old stereotype that Republicans support tax-enhanced defense funding doesn’t appear to be corroborated by the partisan responses since the annual decline in “too high” cuts across every party-affiliated group.
The pollster also notes that it probably doesn’t hurt that President Barack Obama cut taxes for lower- and middle-income workers and has pledged to not raise taxes on those earning less than $250,000 per year. The reduced federal income tax withholding amount is now being reflected in paychecks this month.