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Do Americans Favor a Flat Tax?, by David Brady and Tammy Frisby

Do Americans Favor a Flat Tax?, by David Brady and Tammy Frisby

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Published by Hoover Institution
Appeared in the Wall Street Journal November 9, 2011.
Appeared in the Wall Street Journal November 9, 2011.

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Published by: Hoover Institution on Nov 09, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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David Brady and Tammy Frisby 
Do Americans Favor a Flat Tax? 
Hoover Institution
Stanford University
by David Brady and Tammy FrisbyNovember 9, 2011Last week, YouGov/Polimetrix asked a sample o 1,000 adults about a at rate income tax.We commissioned the poll to survey Americans on their opinion o changing rom ourcurrent income tax system to a at tax system under which all but lowincome Americanswould pay 19% o their income in taxes, regardless o how much money they make.Flat tax proponents ace an uphill battle. Americans in general opposed the at taxproposal 39% to 28%. Democrats opposed the at tax by a wide margin, 52% to 19%.More Republicans supported the at tax proposal than opposed it, but even then, amajority did not avor it (45% in avor to 33% opposed). The level o support is only slightlyhigher among registered voters who say they will vote in a Republican primary or caucusnext year. These Republicans avored the at tax 48% to 30%.But ully onethird o all respondents in our survey were unsure about their opinion o theproposed at tax. This high degree o uncertainty is consistent with a recent Rasmussenpoll o likely voters that asked about a 17% at tax on income over $17,000. In theRasmussen poll, 42% opposed the at tax, 31% avored it, and 27% remained undecided.Surveys conducted in the late 1970s and early 1980s ound similar high rates o uncertainty in public opinion about the at tax. During this earlier period, oneth toonequarter o Americans reported that they were not sure about their position on at taxproposals.In the late 1990s, there was a sustained national debate over the at tax, spearheadedby Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes and House Majority Leader Dick Armey. What did Americans think about the at tax then? Using the Roper iPolldatabase—a curated repository o public opinion surveys conducted by reputable pollingorganizations, including the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll—we identied 10 surveys rom19951996 and two rom 1999 that asked respondents to choose between a graduatedrate income tax system and a at, single rate income tax.Support or the switch to a at rate system ranged rom a low o 38% in late 1995 to highso 48% and 49% throughout 1996. In 1999, two surveys that asked Americans to make thechoice between a tax system under which higher earners pay higher rates and a singlerate or all taxpayers reported that 48% and 50%, respectively, supported a single rate.A WALL STREET JOURNAL OP-ED
Do Americans Favor a Flat Tax?

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