The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Republicans’ tax overhaul pitch faces skeptical public, Post-ABC poll finds

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Bloomberg News)

Republican lawmakers face a skeptical public as they embark on selling a major tax overhaul plan with tepid support before its release and most Americans critical of President Trump's tax restructuring efforts so far, a Washington Post-ABC News poll finds.

A third of Americans support Trump's tax plan, while 50 percent oppose it, a 17-point negative margin driven by overwhelming opposition from Democrats and skepticism among political independents and people with lower incomes. The poll was conducted Sunday through Wednesday, completed before House Republican leaders released their bill Thursday.

Six in 10 say Trump's proposals on cutting taxes favor the rich, a perception that has dogged Republican efforts in pursuing tax restructuring for months. That opinion is not fatal, as a similar share said the same about George W. Bush's tax proposals in 2003, though his 70 percent job approval ratings provided more political capital than Trump's standing, which is at or below 40 percent in recent polling.

The bill unveiled by GOP leaders Thursday would slash the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent and reduce income-tax rates for most families and individuals. It would also eliminate some tax deductions for businesses and households, while repealing the estate tax assessed when someone dies and their heirs inherit property or other assets worth over $5.49 million.

[GOP tax plan would shrink mortgage interest benefit, slash corporate tax rate]

Support for Trump's tax proposals is little changed from September, with both support and opposition up marginally and fewer expressing “no opinion.” Three-quarters of Republicans support Trump's tax plan, while nearly 8 in 10 Democrats oppose it. Among independents, 29 percent support the plan while 52 percent oppose it.

Opposition is higher among Americans with lower household incomes, with 58 percent of those with incomes under $50,000 opposing Trump's tax plan. Trump's proposals are underwater, but to a lesser degree, among middle- and upper-income households. Among those with incomes between $50,000 and $100,000, 38 percent support and 46 percent oppose Trump's plan, while support stands at 39 percent among those with incomes of $100,000, with 45 percent opposing it.

The Post-ABC poll finds most Americans are critical of Trump's efforts on taxes so far, with 56 percent saying he is doing a “not so good” or “poor” job improving the federal tax system, while 34 percent rate him as “excellent” or “good.” Intensity runs strongly against Trump on this question, with 10 percent rating his performance as “excellent,” while 34 percent call it “poor.”

Winners and losers in the GOP tax plan

Overall, 60 percent think Trump's tax-cut proposal favors the rich, 13 percent think it favors the middle class, 2 percent say it favors the poor, and 17 percent say all groups are treated equally.

Perceptions of which Americans will benefit from Trump's tax proposals vary sharply across party lines. More than 6 in 10 Republicans believe the plan will either favor the middle class (27 percent) or treat all people equally (37 percent), while 63 percent, a majority of independents, think his proposals favor the rich, as do 88 percent of Democrats.

The Post-ABC poll was conducted Oct. 29 to Nov. 1 among a random national sample of 1,005 adults reached on cell and landline phones with a margin of sampling error of 3.5 percentage points.