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64% Say Americans Are Overtaxed, Political Class Disagrees


Roughly two-out-of-three voters think Americans are overtaxed, and nearly as many say any federal tax increase should be subject to a vote by the American people. Complicating things for would-be budget cutters, however, is the belief by even more that any changes in Social Security and Medicare also should be voted on by the public.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 64% of Likely U.S. Voters believe America is overtaxed. Twenty-four percent (24%) disagree, and 11% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

This is virtually unchanged from this time last year.

But the Political Class strongly disagrees. While 79% of Mainstream voters think Americans are overtaxed, 87% of those in the Political Class don't share that assessment.

Among all voters, 59% say any federal tax increase should be approved by a vote of the American people Twenty-six percent (26%) say such a vote is not necessary. Fifteen percent (15%) are not sure.

Similarly, 68% of voters feel any proposed changes to Medicare and Social Security should be approved by a vote of the American people. Twenty-two percent (22%) disagree and don't think a public vote is necessary.

Support for requiring voter approval of tax hikes is up 11 points from 48% in April 2010. Support for requiring a referendum on changes to Social Security and Medicare is also up from last April but little changed since September

Most Americans continue to believe middle class taxpayers pay a larger share of their income in taxes than those who are wealthy, and they favor an income tax system where everyone pays the same percentage of their income.

Women voters feel more strongly than men that Americans are overtaxed. Younger voters are more likely to agree than their elders.

Eighty-two percent (82%) of Republicans and 70% of voters not affiliated with either major party believe Americans have to pay too much in taxes. Democrats are fairly evenly divided on the question.

Only 43% of Democrats favor a vote of the American people for any proposed federal tax increase, compared to 71% of GOP voters and 64% of unaffiliateds.

But when it comes to any proposed changes in Social Security and Medicare, Democrats feel nearly as strongly as Republicans and unaffiliated voters that a public vote of approval should be required.

The Political Class is a bit less enthusiastic. Seventy-four percent (74%) of Mainstream voters think any changes in Medicare and Social Security should be approved by a vote of the American people. Political Class voters are evenly divided.

But 51% of those in the Political Class agree with 67% of Mainstream voters that public approval should be required for any federal tax increase.

Voters continue to believe tax cuts and decreases in government spending will benefit the nation's economy. 

With less than three weeks to go until the April 15 deadline, over half of Americans had filed their income taxes, and 43% expected to get a refund. 

Americans were receptive late last year to a proposal by President Obama's bipartisan deficit reduction commission to increase the level of income taxable for Social Security, but most didn't like the idea of raising the retirement age. 

Forty-one percent (41%) of voters now correctly recognize that the majority of federal spending goes to just national defense, Social Security and Medicare, although 39% disagree and say it's not true. Twenty percent (20%) aren't sure.

Just 28% of voters believe the federal government today has the consent of the governed.

Rasmussen Reports is an electronic media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion polling information.  We poll on a variety of topics in the fields of politics, business and lifestyle, updating our site's content on a news cycle throughout the day, everyday.

Rasmussen Reports Platinum Members get an all-access pass to polling news, analysis and insight not available to the general public.

Scott Rasmussen , president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade. To learn more about our methodology, click here.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on April 3-4, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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©2011 Rasmussen Reports, LLC
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