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Tax Day Update: Americans Still Not Seeing Tax Cut Benefit

Tax Day Update: Americans Still Not Seeing Tax Cut Benefit

Story Highlights

  • 40% of Americans approve of Trump tax cuts, 49% disapprove
  • Just 14% say their taxes have gone down because of new tax laws
  • Record-tying-low 45% say the tax they pay is too high

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As Americans file their 2018 income taxes, they are now able to evaluate whether they benefited from the sweeping Republican-sponsored tax overhaul, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which President Donald Trump signed into law in December 2017. The president touted the legislation, which included tax cuts for individuals and businesses, as a gift to middle-income people. So far, Americans are unconvinced.

As Tax Day approaches, here are updates to five of the questions Gallup measures on taxes.

  1. Americans continue to have net-negative views of the 2017 tax bill -- 49% disapprove and 40% approve. Since Gallup began measuring reaction to the law before its passage, approval has ranged from 29% to the current 40%.

    The legislation passed without a single Democratic vote in either chamber of Congress, and Americans' views of it are similarly divided along party lines. Democrats' approval of the law is 16% and Republicans' is 78%. Independents' approval stands at 32%.

    Line graph. Americans’ approval of the tax bill signed into law by the president since December 2017, by party group.
  2. The plurality of Americans, currently 43%, remain unsure whether the new tax law has affected what they pay in federal income taxes, although this is down from 55% a year ago. Meanwhile, 21% now say their taxes have increased as a result, up from 9% who said this in 2018. Another 21%, similar to the 17% from a year ago, say their taxes are unchanged.

    Given how politicized the tax cuts were when they were passed, differences in the readings of political partisans might be expected. While there are some differences by party (28% of Democrats, 22% of independents and 13% of Republicans say their taxes have gone up), pluralities of each group still say they are unsure of the effect.

    Americans' Views of the How the Trump Tax Cuts Have Affected Them Personally
    Have the new tax laws caused your federal income taxes to go up, go down, stay the same or are you unsure?
    April 2018 April 2019
    % %
    All adults
    Go up 9 21
    Go down 18 14
    Stay the same 17 21
    Unsure/No answer 55 43
    Go up 6 13
    Go down 28 22
    Stay the same 22 25
    Unsure 43 40
    Go up 11 22
    Go down 13 10
    Stay the same 14 20
    Unsure 62 45
    Go up 10 28
    Go down 17 12
    Stay the same 16 17
    Unsure 56 42
  3. For the second year in a row, a record-low 45% of Americans say the amount of federal income tax they pay is too high, and 48% say it is about right. Gallup first asked this question in 1956 and from then until 2001, with a couple of exceptions, majorities consistently said their taxes were too high. Since then -- after three rounds of tax cuts in 2001, 2003 and 2017 -- closer to 50% have been content with what they pay.

    Line graph. Americans’ opinions of the federal income tax they pay, since 1956.
  4. A 57% majority of U.S. adults regard the income tax they have to pay as fair, while 39% think it is unfair. Americans' views of the fairness of the taxes they pay have fluctuated over the years, with fewer generally regarding them as fair in years when a Democratic president is in office and more doing so in years when there is a Republican president. There is little variation in Americans' current views by household income or party identification.

    Line graph. Americans’ opinions of the whether the federal income tax they pay is fair, since 1997.
  5. Majorities of Americans continue to think that upper-income people (62%) and corporations (69%) pay too little in taxes, but views are mixed about the tax burden of lower- and middle-income people. Less than half of U.S. adults (48%) now say middle-income people pay their fair share and 43% say they pay too much. Meanwhile, 48% think lower-income people pay too much and 33% think they pay their fair share. The readings on upper-income people and corporations have not varied greatly since George W. Bush's presidency.

    Democrats are more likely than Republicans to believe lower- and middle-income people pay too much in taxes and that upper-income people and corporations pay too little. Republicans are more likely to say each group pays their fair share.

    Americans' Views of Taxes Paid by Four Groups
    By party identification
    All adults Republicans Independents Democrats
    % % % %
    Lower-income people
    Fair share 33 44 32 26
    Too much 48 24 52 64
    Too little 17 30 14 9
    No opinion 2 1 2 1
    Middle-income people
    Fair share 48 58 49 41
    Too much 43 37 42 50
    Too little 7 5 7 8
    No opinion 2 1 2 2
    Upper-income people
    Fair share 27 48 23 14
    Too much 9 15 8 5
    Too little 62 36 66 79
    No opinion 2 2 2 1
    Fair share 23 44 19 12
    Too much 6 9 6 4
    Too little 69 46 73 84
    No opinion 2 2 2 1
    Gallup, April 1-9, 2019

Bottom Line

With Tax Day almost here, support for the 2017 tax overhaul that Trump hailed as an "economic miracle" is steady at its high point, but more still view it negatively than positively. Americans seem to have made up their minds about the law one year ago. If the law is lowering their taxes, Americans aren't feeling it. In fact, more think their taxes have increased rather than decreased as a result, but the plurality remain unsure.

If there's any good news in Gallup's tax findings for Trump and the GOP, it is that fewer than half of Americans think their tax bill is too high. This ties last year's record low.

View complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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