Sixty-one percent of voters in a new Politico-Morning Consult poll say they support a tax on high levels of wealth such as the one proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Twenty percent say they oppose such a tax, with 19 percent saying they weren’t sure either way.
It’s another data point in recent polls showing a broad appetite among American voters for raising taxes on the wealthy. Those findings come at a time when progressive lawmakers have put forth numerous proposals to tax the rich, including the one by Warren (D-Mass.), 70 percent tax rate on incomes over $10 million pushed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and the recently announced proposal by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to expand the estate tax.
The Politico-Morning Consult poll finds that Warren’s wealth tax is more popular than Ocasio-Cortez’s tax on high incomes, which 45 percent of voters in support, with 32 percent opposed.
Warren’s proposal would levy a 2 percent annual tax on a family’s net worth in excess of $50 million, with an additional 1 percent tax on net worth above $1 billion. Economists advising Warren on the plan estimate it would affect only the country’s 75,000 wealthiest families, or fewer than 0.1 percent of American households.
For many years, voters have told pollsters that they favor raising taxes on the wealthy, at least in theory. Last year, 62 percent of respondents told Gallup that taxes were too low on upper-income Americans, with 66 percent saying they were too low on corporations. Those numbers have changed little over the past 15 years. Numbers such as those explain why voters remain sour on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which was a windfall for corporations and the wealthy.
But agreement with statements such as “the rich pay too little in taxes” doesn’t always translate into concrete support for specific policies, which makes the current round of polling all the more notable: It demonstrates both that voters want higher taxes on the rich and that they are willing to support specific policies to bring about that outcome.
One other caveat is that issue-related polls are highly sensitive when it comes to how questions are worded. The same policy could generate very different levels of public support depending on how pollsters ask about it. While Ocasio-Cortez’s high-income tax drew 45 percent support in the Politico-Morning Consult poll, a Hill-HarrisX poll wording the question differently found a 59 percent level of support, for instance.
Americans' growing appetite for tax hikes on the rich may reflect, in part, a growing concern with soaring income and wealth inequality in the United States. The top 1 percent of Americans, for instance, own approximately 40 percent of the country’s total wealth — more than they’ve held at any time in 50 years. The Politico-Morning Consult poll found that 60 percent of Americans, including 40 percent of Republicans, said that passing legislation to reduce inequality should be an important priority for Congress.