Seventy-five percent of likely U.S. voters believe the wealthiest Americans should pay lower tax rates according to a new poll from The Hill, a contrast to several other recent surveys that indicate widespread support for the so-called Buffett Rule that would require millionaires to take on a larger share of the nation's tax burden.
The poll, conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, surveyed 1,000 likely voters comprised almost evenly of Democrats, Republicans and independents. When asked what they believed an appropriate tax rate is for families earning $250,000 or more a year, almost a quarter of respondents said 25 percent, while the next largest share -- 21 percent -- said less than 20 percent would be appropriate.
Only 13 percent said the current rate of 35 percent was a suitable tax rate for families in that income bracket. A sparse 4 percent advocated an income tax rate of 40 percent or over, which is approximately the level President Obama is seeking for those earners beginning January 2013.
It is relevant to note the poll did not ask the respondents to identify current tax rates, indicating there is a possibility that many of the survey participants did not know how much the nation's top earners are already being taxed.
Republicans More Likely to Back Lower Tax Rates
Republicans were more likely to support lower rates than Democrats, although a solid of majority of each group -- 81 percent compared to 70 percent -- said they believed an appropriate rate for wealthy individuals was less than current law demands.
Interestingly, respondents with an annual income of at least $100,000 were the least likely to support the lower tax rate, with 66 percent agreeing that lower rates were appropriate. Meanwhile, 81 percent of individuals earning between $20,000 and $40,000 a year supported lowering tax rates at a level below current law.
For instance, in an Associated Press/GfK poll released on Feb. 23, two-thirds of respondents said they supported Obama's plan to require millionaires to pay taxes equal to at least 30 percent of their income. A similar poll from the Pew Research Center conducted in June found 66 percent of adults favored raising taxes on those making more than $250,000 as a way of lowering the federal deficit, while additional surveys from Gallup and Daily Kos have found similar results.
In addition the Buffett Rule, the White House's fiscal 2013 budget includes a request to raise taxes on family incomes above $250,000 as well as returning the top individual rate to 39.6 percent.
When asked about the appropriate top corporate tax rate, a majority of individuals also favored percentages that are considerably lower than the current policy. A quarter of likely voters said corporations should pay a 25 percent tax rate, while 11 percent favored the current 35 percent rate. A small proportion of respondents -- about 10 percent -- favored a rate above 40 percent.
Although it is unclear as to whether the respondents were aware of the current corporate tax rate, the results fall into line with both Republicans and the White House. Obama recently introduced a corporate tax reform plan that would lower the rate to 28 percent, while eliminating loopholes, while House Republicans have been advocating a plan that would push the rate to 25 percent.