It's tax day! (Ok, the exclamation point may be a little much.)
As you might guess, Americans have a lot of feelings about paying taxes-- mostly negative. Here's seven charts that tell the story of our long and fraught relationship with the tax man.
1. Most dislike or hate doing their taxes
The Internal Revenue Service dropped a bombshell on the political world Friday morning, acknowledging that it inappropriately targeted conservative political groups in the 2012 campaign, subjecting them to additional screening in their applications for tax-exempt status.
An IRS official told the Associated Press that low-level staff unjustly focused on groups with words like "tea party" and "patriot" in their name, and the groups were asked for donor information, likely in violation of IRS policy.
More than eight in 10 Americans believe that you should do everything you can to pay the lowest tax rate possible, according to new Washington Post-ABC News polling, a finding that suggests that people likely hold politicians to a standard of conduct they themselves don't adhere to.
Eighty-five percent of Americans -- and 86 percent of registered voters -- say they approve of people "doing everything within the law to lower their taxes." Nearly six in 10 say they "strongly" approve of doing all you can to pay as little as possible. Those numbers are remarkably consistent across party lines, with 90 percent of self-identified Republicans expressing that view, as well as 83 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of independents.
A clear majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of the federal income tax system, according to new Washington Post-ABC News polling. But, in a somewhat remarkable finding, a majority of Democrats view the tax system in a positive light while Republicans and Independents carry the exact opposite view.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Sunday that he believes Republicans would consider adding new tax revenues by closing loopholes if Democrats show a willingness to embrace "true" entitlement reform.
"I think Republicans, if they saw true entitlement reform, would be glad to look at tax reform that generates additional revenues," Corker said on "Fox News Sunday." "And that doesn't mean increasing rates, that means closing loopholes. It also means arranging our tax system so that we have economic growth."
The debate over new tax revenue is dead. Long live the debate over new tax revenue.
That more or less sums up the respective positions Republicans and Democrats have staked out in the related fiscal battles over the required spending cuts known as the sequester, the budget, and deficit reduction. When it comes to the American people, the debate is far from settled, with deep divides mirroring the ones that have seized Washington.
The Senate's third-ranking Democrat said Sunday that the upper chamber will pass a budget this year, something House Republican leaders have insisted as they've agreed to hold a vote on a short-term increase in the nation's borrowing limit.
"In our budget that we will pass, we will have tax reform, which many of my Republican colleagues like. But it's going to include revenues," Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on NBC News's "Meet The Press."
Eighty percent of Americans agree on almost nothing (even Olympic swimming!).
But a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday found exactly such consensus on one of the central issues in the debate over the "fiscal cliff": 85 percent of registered voters, including 77 percent of Republicans, said it was a "bad idea" for members of Congress to promise to "never increase taxes on corporations or the wealthy under any circumstance".
Anti-tax lobbyist Grover Norquist said Sunday that if President Obama pushes the nation over the "fiscal cliff," there will be a tea party backlash stronger than the movement that influenced the 2010 midterm elections.
"Tea Party two is going to dwarf tea party one if Obama pushes us off the cliff," warned Norquist on NBC's "Meet The Press."
Norquist, the founder of Americans for Tax Reform, has become a central figure in negotiations between Republicans and Democrats, with some congressional Republicans signaling a willingness to violate his no-new-taxes pledge to avert the "fiscal cliff." Norquist said he believes televising the negotiations would prevent tax increases from being part of any deal.
"If people watch this on C-SPAN, then you won't have higher taxes," he said.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Sunday that congressional Republicans are in a "difficult position" with regard to the ongoing negotiations over the looming "fiscal cliff," and declared optimism that a deal could be reached, even as Republican leaders have said the talks have reached a standstill.
Much of the news coverage of the so-called "fiscal cliff" in recent days has focused on whether Republicans are willing to violate their Grover Norquist-sponsored pledge not to vote to raise taxes.
But what if the the Norquist pledge doesn't even apply to the current situation?
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) doesn't think it does. And Norquist and his group -- Americans for Tax Reform -- aren't saying that Cole is wrong.
So just what kind of price would Republicans pay for breaking their pledges and voting to raise taxes?
If history is any judge, it certainly won't help. Above, we look at a Gallup chart of George H.W. Bush's approval ratings at two key junctures during the budget debate of 1990.
The first line is from the end of June, when Bush said for the first time that he would push for a tax increase, in contrast to his previous "Read my lips, no new taxes" pledge. His approval rating dropped from 69 percent to 60 percent by mid-July.
Updated at 8:35 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 26.
A pair of congressional Republicans reiterated their willingness Sunday to violate an anti-tax pledge in order to strike a deal on the "fiscal cliff," echoingSen. Saxby Chambliss, the Georgia Republican who suggested last week that the oath may be outdated.
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham(R-S.C.) said he was prepared to set asideGrover Norquist's Taxpayer Protection Pledgeif Democrats will make an effort to reform entitlements, andRep. Peter T. King(R-N.Y.) suggested the pledge may be out of step in the present economy.
In the wake of Mitt Romney releasing his 2011 tax return Friday, Democrats on Sunday sought to use the renewed attention on the GOP nominee’s personal finances to pivot to an argument that the Republican presidential candidate hasn’t been clear enough about his tax plan for the American people.
“The bigger issue isn’t that he isn’t being straight about his own taxes,” Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod said on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” “The bigger issue is that he isn’t being straight about what he’s going to do to everyone else’s taxes.”
Talk of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s allegation that Mitt Romney had not paid any taxes at all for 10 years dominated the Sunday talk show circuit as Republicans denounced the (still-unsubstantiated) charge.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called Reid a “dirty liar,” noting that the top-ranking Democrat in the Senate had still not made public who allegedly told him about Romney’s tax history. (Romney, for his part, has said he paid taxes every year.) Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, the head of the Republican Governors Association, called Reid’s allegation a “reckless and slanderous charge”.
For years, President’s Obama’s political opponents have used his background — Kenyan father, Kansan mother, raised in Indonesia and Hawaii — to cast him as somehow exotic, someone whose life makes it hard for him to understand the average American.
And yet, it’s Mitt Romney, Obama’s general election opponent, who is now dealing with an “exotic” issue that is centered on his considerable wealth and being played out in the ongoing fight over whether he will release more than two years worth of tax returns.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney continues to be steadfast in his refusal to release any more than his last two years of tax returns, a position that has already become a distraction to his presidential campaign and could cause considerably more trouble if he doesn’t figure out a better answer — and soon.
“Perception is becoming Romney’s reality and these issues have now risen above mere distractions,” said John Weaver, a Republican consultant and former senior adviser to Sen. John McCain’s (R) 2000 and 2008 presidential campaigns. “The President has had the worst three months of any incumbent, due to the economy, since George H.W. Bush in 1992, and yet Romney has lost traction among key demographic groups in the vital swing states. He has got to get this behind him or he’s going to face summer definition ala [Bob] Dole and [John] Kerry. ”
President Obama’s campaign is up with a new ad contrasting his tax plan with Mitt Romney’s and accusing Romney of wanting to raise taxes on 18 million Americans.
The ad accuses Romney of supporting tax breaks for the wealthy, for oil companies and for those who ship jobs overseas, along with a tax increase for 18 million “working families.”
One man’s tax cut is another man’s tax increase.
That political reality will be proven — yet again — in the aftermath of President Obama’s decision to call on Congress to extend the Bush era tax cuts for those making under $250,000 — and, therefore, for those not making more than $250,000.
Make no mistake: This proposal isn’t going anywhere legislatively before the election. (Republicans were quick to remind voters that Obama already pushed virtually this same proposal earlier this year.) It is a purely political gambit by the President designed to force Republicans to defend what the White House believes is an untenable position: preserving tax cuts for the wealthiest among us.
One of the keys — if not the key — to success in politics is fighting out the election on your home turf.
Voters tend to have strong pre-conceived notions about which party does better on a variety of issues and those perceptions — whether right or wrong — tend to determine the landscape on which races are fought and won.
The most charitable presidential candidate in the 2012 election is ... a tie!
Rick Santorum’s disclosure of four years worth of tax returns late Wednesday makes him the fourth major candidate to do so (Texas Rep. Ron Paul is the lone holdout), and a dive into the numbers shows some very disparate charitable giving habits.
The Post’s Karen Tumulty and Perry Bacon Jr. note in this morning’s paper that the Republican presidential candidates have come out with some wide-ranging tax proposals.
But just what’s in those tax plans, and how do they differ? The Fix explains in detail below. (And check out this helpful infographic.)
If there was one word that Texas Gov. Rick Perry wanted Republican voters to remember about the tax reform plan he unveiled this morning in South Carolina it was “bold”.
He said it no fewer than three times — he even threw in a “very bold ” — during his 30-minute speech designed to unveil his 20 percent flat tax proposal. Perry also railed against the “status quo” on any number of occasions — “Americans are not looking for a reshuffling of the status quo,” he said at one point — and repeatedly used words like “re-invent” and “re-order” to describe what he was aiming to do.