Tax Foundation Poll Shows Majority of U.S. Adults Believe They Pay More Tax than Donald Trump

Full survey results online

Washington, DC, April 14, 2005—On the eve of the April 15 tax deadline, a new national survey commissioned by the Tax Foundation and conducted by Harris Interactive® shows that 59 percent of U.S. adults believe they pay more federal income tax as a percentage of income than billionaire Donald Trump.

     “The poll results show a majority of Americans believe federal taxes are too high, complex, and they support tax simplification even if that means giving up deductions and exemptions,” said Tax Foundation President Scott A. Hodge.      An overwhelming 81 percent of adults believe the federal income tax is somewhat or very complex, and 70 percent said they either “hated” or “disliked” doing their income taxes. More than half (55%) say the amount of federal income tax they pay is too high.

Majority Support Tax Reform

     With fundamental tax reform a centerpiece of the President’s domestic agenda—including a possible flat income tax or national retail sales tax—the survey asked respondents about their preferred method of collecting taxes. When asked to choose between a national sales tax, a flat-rate income tax with no deductions or the current income tax system, 37 percent of adults chose a flat tax, while 19 percent favored a national sales tax and 19 percent favored the status quo.

     When asked if they favored replacing part of the income tax with a nationwide sales tax, just 34 percent favored it while 36 percent were opposed[1][1]. When asked about a flat tax where everyone pays the same percentage of income over some minimum level, 54 percent favored the plan, while 21 percent opposed it[2][2].

Willing to Trade Deductions for Simpler Taxes

     “Conventional wisdom is that deductions are a stumbling block for tax reform, as voters may be unwilling to give them up in exchange for a simpler tax code,” said Hodge. “These survey results challenge that belief.”

     When asked if they are willing to give up some deductions to make the tax system simpler, a majority (54%) of adults said they would. Surprisingly, those most willing to trade deductions away for tax simplification are the same ones likely to benefit from deductions—respondents who are married, those over age 45, and those with incomes over $75,000 per year.