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More Still Disapprove Than Approve of 2017 Tax Cuts

More Still Disapprove Than Approve of 2017 Tax Cuts

Story Highlights

  • 39% of Americans approve of tax overhaul; 46% disapprove
  • 64% say they have not seen an increase in their take-home pay
  • 51% say cuts haven't helped financially; 38% say they have

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- With the midterm elections less than a month away and Republicans fighting to retain control of both houses of Congress, more Americans continue to disapprove than approve of last year's sweeping tax overhaul bill signed into law by President Donald Trump, 46% to 39%. Americans' approval of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which included tax cuts for individuals and businesses, is unchanged from the previous reading seven months ago but is slightly higher than measures prior to and immediately after its passage.

Line graph. Approval of 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act from December 2017 to present, currently at 39% approval, 46% disapproval.

Gallup first measured Americans' views of the tax bill in early December 2017, before Congress passed it. The current poll, from Sept. 24-30, marks the third Gallup reading on approval of the law since it passed. In January 2018, just after the bill became a law, 33% approved and 55% disapproved. The 39% approval in late February/early March and in the current survey is the highest to date.

Given that the GOP-sponsored tax bill passed without a single Democratic vote in either chamber of Congress, it is unsurprising that Americans' views of it are similarly divided along party lines. Democrats' approval of the law is 8%, and Republicans' is 76%. Independents' approval stands at 34%.

Americans Don't See Much Personal Impact From Tax Law

Trump and Republican lawmakers touted the overhaul as tax relief that would benefit everyone, particularly the middle class -- yet, 51% of Americans say the law has not helped their family's financial situation, while 38% say it has helped "a little" (26%) or "a lot" (12%).

Reflecting their overall positive views of the tax cut law, two-thirds of Republicans say the law has helped their family's financial situation a lot (24%) or a little (42%). By contrast, only 3% of Democrats say it has helped a lot, with another 12% saying it has helped a little. Independents are more likely to say the tax cuts have not helped (53%) than to say they have (35%).

Upper-income Americans are most likely to say the law has helped their family's finances. Forty-seven percent of those with an annual household income of $90,000 or more say the law has helped at least a little, compared with 36% of middle-income Americans and 28% of lower-income Americans.

Impact of Tax Cuts on Family's Financial Situation, by Party and Income
Has the tax cut law helped or not helped your family's financial situation? (If "helped":) Has it helped a lot, or a little?
Helped a lot Helped a little Not helped No opinion
% % % %
All adults 12 26 51 10
Republicans 24 42 23 11
Independents 10 25 53 12
Democrats 3 12 79 6
<$36,000 9 19 62 10
$36,000 to <$90,000 10 26 54 9
$90,000+ 13 34 45 8
Gallup, Sept. 24-30, 2018

Although many of the changes to the tax code took effect in January 2018, they didn't affect the 2017 taxes filed by Americans in April, which may account for the slim majority not seeing them as having helped their family's finances.

However, most workers in the U.S. should have seen modest increases in their paychecks starting in February due to employers using the new income tax withholding tables. Yet, nearly two-thirds of Americans, 64%, say they have not seen an increase in their take-home pay as a result of lower federal income taxes. This result is identical to Gallup's February/March poll, taken shortly after many employers began adjusting tax withholdings on worker paychecks.

Although this question is arguably less subjective than the one asking about family finances, the results are also politically polarized. Majorities of Democrats (79%) and independents (66%) say they have not seen an increase in their take-home pay, while Republicans are divided, with 48% saying they have and 44% saying they have not.

Those with lower incomes are even more likely than those with higher incomes to report no increase.

Impact of Tax Cuts on Take-Home Pay, by Party and Income
Have you seen an increase in your take-home pay because less federal income tax is being taken out of your pay?
Yes No No opinion
% % %
All adults 31 64 6
Republicans 48 44 8
Independents 29 66 5
Democrats 17 79 4
<$36,000 19 76 5
$36,000 to <$90,000 28 65 7
$90,000+ 45 52 4
Gallup, Sept. 24-30, 2018


The passage of Trump's tax cuts, on the heels of Republicans' repeated attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, has been hailed as the biggest accomplishment of his presidency to date. At the signing ceremony last December, Trump -- referring to the impact that Americans would see in their personal finances -- said, "The numbers will speak." Yet, aside from rank-and-file Republicans, Americans are underwhelmed with the tax overhaul so far.

Republicans on the ballot this November were undoubtedly hoping to run on the tax cuts, assuming Americans would see the benefits and give Republican candidates credit for conferring those benefits. But more Americans continue to disapprove than approve of the tax law, and most say they haven't seen an increase in their paycheck as a result of less federal withholding.

While Republicans may not get much traction outside of their base by running on the tax cuts, they still have a strong economy to help them. If in the final month of the campaign they can convince voters that the tax law has benefited Americans indirectly through broad improvements in the economy and unemployment, they may be able to increase the number who view the law in a positive light.

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