Poll: Most believe the rich aren’t taxed enough but their ranks are shrinking

at 11:00 AM ET, 04/20/2012

The majority of Americans believe that the wealthy among us pay too little in taxes--62 percent, according to the latest Gallup poll. But that number is actually near historic lows, as the sentiment that the rich don’t pay enough in taxes has been on the wane. In 1992, a whopping 77 percent of Americans believed that upper-income people should pay more, and those numbers have generally trended downward in the two decades since.

One interesting finding: The belief that the rich aren’t taxed enough rose sharply with the recent housing boomand fell with the bust, reaching a historic low in 2010, at 55 percent. During the height of the recession, there was also a sharp increase in the number of Americans who believe the rich pay too much in taxes, reaching 15 percent in 2010--the highest percentage in 20 years.

At the same time, a rapidly growing number of Americans believe that poor people aren’t taxed nearly enough, which hit a historic high of 24 percent this year. Gallup points out that this trend is largely fueled by Republicans. “More than four in 10 Republicans (43%) -- compared with 21% of independents and 10% of Democrats -- now say lower-income people pay too little, a finding that could reflect some conservatives’ complaint that lower-income Americans pay no federal income taxes or get money back in tax credits,” Gallup writes.

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