An in-depth survey on tax reform finds that majorities in very red districts, as well as very blue districts, oppose key provisions in the Republican tax reform bills including reducing taxes on the wealthy, reducing the corporate tax, eliminating or limiting state and local tax deductions, and eliminating the tax on income from subsidiaries in other countries.  However, very red districts favor, while very blue districts oppose, eliminating the estate tax, lowering the tax on pass-through businesses, lowering the cap on the mortgage deduction, and allowing immediate expensing by businesses for a five year period.

The study, conducted by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation (PPC), was released by Voice of the People, a nonpartisan organization seeking to give citizens a greater voice in public policy.

The sample of 2,637 registered voters was large enough to make it possible to divide the sample six ways according to the partisan dominance of the respondent’s district, ranging from very red (Republican) to very blue (Democrat), based on Cook’s PVI ratings.

The study used an advanced survey method in which respondents were given briefings on the key proposals in the tax reform bills and evaluated arguments for and against each proposal.  The survey content was reviewed by experts who favor and oppose the proposed tax reform plan, to ensure accuracy and balance, and that the strongest arguments were presented for and against each proposal.  Steven Kull, director of PPC, commented, “Unlike most current standard polls on tax reform, which have large percentages declining to answer, in this survey nearly all respondents formulated responses.“

On the proposal to reduce the top corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent (in both the House and Senate bills), for the national sample 60% were opposed, including 80% of Democrats and 67% of independents.  Sixty-five percent of Republicans favored the proposal, but majorities opposed it in the red districts, including 57% in the very red districts.

Sixty nine percent, including 55% of Republicans, opposed the Senate bill’s complete elimination of the deductions for state and local taxes (SALT), as did 62% in very red districts. The House bill’s plan for cutting SALT, which preserves the deduction for $10,000 in property taxes, was rejected by a smaller majority (61%), In this case 56% of Republicans were in favoring, however in very red districts 57% were opposed.

The least popular proposal was one that appears in both the House and Senate bills, establishing a territorial tax system which would eliminate the corporate income tax on profits made by subsidiaries in other countries.  Though they heard the arguments that this would make US corporations more competitive and encourage repatriation of profits, 68% opposed the idea. Republicans overall were divided, but in very red districts 57% were opposed.

As it is not feasible to have respondents sort through the complexities of the many changes in rates and deductions, respondents were asked to propose the net level of taxes for each income bracket after deductions, i.e. the effective tax rate.  They were presented the current effective tax rate for each income bracket and given the opportunity to propose what they thought it should be.

Though both the House and Senate tax bills would result in reductions in the effective tax rates for incomes over $200,000, only 23% of respondents proposed reductions for incomes $200-$500,000, dropping to 20% for incomes $500,000 to $1 million, and 19% for incomes above $1 million.  Among Republicans, fewer than four in ten (39%) favored reductions for incomes from $200-$500,000, dropping to 32% for incomes over $1 million. In very red districts only, support for cuts to incomes $200-$500,000 was 31%, dropping to 26% for income over $1 million.  For no income bracket did a clear majority in very red districts favor reductions.

Instead, overall majorities favored increasing taxes by 5 percent or more for incomes of $200,000-$500,000 (54% favored), $500,000 to $1 million (60%), and over $1 million (62%).  Among Republicans, less than a majority favored increasing taxes on the wealthy, but in very red districts 53% favored increasing taxes on incomes over $500,000 and 58% for incomes over $1 million.

According to the recently released scoring from the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, the net effect of the House and Senate bills would be to lower the average taxes by 5-8 percent for incomes of $200-$500,000, by 5-10 percent for incomes $500-$100,000, and by 6-8 percent for incomes above $1 million.

Several proposals elicited divided responses overall, with sharp partisan divisions that carried over into the districts as well.  Setting a new top tax rate of 25 percent for pass-through businesses (as called for in the House bill) was favored by 49% and opposed by 50%, with three quarters of Republicans in favor and three quarter of Democrats opposed.  Very red districts were in favor (56%), while very blue districts were opposed (60%).  The Senate bill lowers the rate even further.

Allowing immediate expensing of business investments for a five-year period (as called for in the House bill) was favored by 50% and opposed by 49%, with 74% of Republicans in favor and 72% of Democrats opposed.  In very red districts 56% were in favor, while in very blue districts 57% were opposed.

On the House bill proposal to lower the maximum amount of deductible interest for new mortgages to the interest paid on $500,000, 50% were in favor, 49% opposed, with 60% of Republicans in favor and 58% of Democrats opposed.  In very red districts 57% were in favor, while in very blue districts 56% were opposed.

For the estate tax, the House bill calls for doubling the amount of assets that can be transferred tax-free for the next six years and then completely eliminates the tax.  This idea was opposed by 53%, including 75% of Democrats and 59% of independents.  However, 73% of Republicans favored it.  In very red districts 56% favored it but in other red districts views were divided.  In all blue districts majorities were opposed including 61% in very blue districts. The Senate bill also doubles the amount of tax-free transfers, but does not eliminate the tax in six years.

On the broader question of whether tax revenues should be reduced, 54% favored some reduction, but 51% thought that $1.5 trillion over the next decade went too far, including 76% of Democrats and 54% of independents.  Seventy-eight percent of Republicans thought that the $1.5 trillion reduction was acceptable. Only in very red districts did a majority (53%) think this was acceptable, while other red districts were divided.  Blue districts were opposed.

The survey was conducted online with a national probability-based sample of 2,637 registered voters, provided by Nielsen Scarborough from Nielsen Scarborough’s sample of respondents, who were recruited by mail and telephone using a random sample of households. The margin of error was +/- 2.3% for the national sample and 4.5-5% for the samples divided by their Congressional district’s partisan dominance based on Cook PVI ratings.

Download “Americans on Tax Reform” report at: http://www.publicconsultation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Tax_Reform_Report_Sextiles.pdf

Download Slide Presentation: http://www.publicconsultation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Tax_Reform_Slides_Sextiles_1117.pdf

Download Questionnaire: http://www.publicconsultation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Tax_Reform_Quaire_Sextiles.pdf


An overwhelming majority of 79% voters oppose the proposal to allow churches and other non-profit organizations to endorse political candidates and provide them money and other support.  This includes 71% of Republicans as well as 88% of Democrats and 78% on independents.  Most (55%) say it is ‘very important’ to keep the current law.

The proposal to reverse the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits political activity by tax-exempt organizations, is in the House tax reform bill and in other proposed legislation, including H.R. 172, H.R. 781, and S. 264.

The survey of 2,482 registered voter was conducted by the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland (PPC), and released today by the non-partisan organization Voice of the People.

“Americans are frustrated with the degree of partisan polarization in this country.  The idea of churches and universities becoming channels for partisan political activity makes this proposal a non-starter with Republican and Democratic voters alike, “ comments Steven Kull, director of PPC.

To ensure that respondent understood the issue, they were given a short briefing on the proposal and asked to evaluate three arguments for and three against.

Some of the arguments in favor of the proposal to allow political activity by nonprofits were found convincing by majorities.  Fifty-eight percent found convincing the argument that the current restrictions constitute an infringement of the First Amendment right of free expression.  Fifty-two percent found convincing the argument that before the 1960s, there was no such restriction and churches were not turned into arms of political parties.  The argument that political decisions should be part of religious institutions because they are closely linked to religious values was found convincing by just 46%.

The arguments against the proposal fared much better with all of them being found convincing by very large majorities.  Eighty-two percent found convincing the argument that churches and universities should be special places for worship or study and that they could become affiliated with specific parties, promoting rancor and polarization.  Seventy-eight percent found convincing the argument that, because there are no limits on donations to tax-exempt organization, this could open up the floodgates for political money to flow through houses of worship and other non-profits.  Seventy-three percent were persuaded that giving tax breaks for political donations means that the US Treasury, and thus American taxpayers, will be effectively be paying part of the cost of the donation.

The sample is large enough to enable analysis of attitudes in very Republican and very Democratic districts (based on Cook PVI ratings of the district the respondents live in).  There was no significant variation.  Seventy-nine percent of respondents in very red districts as well as very blue districts opposed the proposal to reverse the Johnson amendment.

Though numerous Evangelical leaders have come out in favor of allowing churches to engage in political activity, in the survey a 56% of respondents who identify as Evangelical said they oppose the proposal while 43% were in favor.  However among Republican Evangelicals a slight majority—52%–favors the idea (46% opposed).

The survey was conducted online from September 7- October 3, 2017 with a national probability-based sample of 2,482 registered voters, provided by Nielsen Scarborough from Nielsen Scarborough’s sample of respondents, who were recruited by mail and telephone using a random sample of households. The margin of error was +/- 2.0%.


A new in-depth survey on tax reform finds that fewer than one in four voters overall, and fewer than four in ten Republicans, support lowering taxes for incomes over $200,000.  Sixty nine percent, including 55% of Republicans, oppose the Senate bill’s complete elimination of the deductions for state and local taxes (SALT).  However the House bill’s plan for cutting SALT, which preserves the deduction for $10,000 in property taxes, was rejected by a smaller majority (61%), with 56% of Republicans favoring it.

The study of 1,750 registered voters, conducted by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation (PPC), was released today by Voice of the People, a nonpartisan organization seeking to give citizens a greater voice in public policy.

The study used an advanced survey method in which respondents were given briefings on the key proposals in the tax reform bills and evaluated arguments for and against each proposal.  The survey content was reviewed by experts who favor and oppose the proposed tax reform plan, to ensure accuracy and balance, and that the strongest arguments were presented for and against each proposal.

Steven Kull, director of PPC, commented, “Unlike most current standard polls on tax reform, which have large percentages declining to answer, in this survey nearly all respondents formulated responses.“

On the proposal to reduce the top corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent (in both the House and Senate bills), 60% were opposed, including 80% of Democrats and 67% of independents.  However, 65% of Republicans favored the proposal.

As it is not feasible to have respondents sort through the complexities of the many changes in rates and deductions, respondents were asked to propose the net level of taxes for each income bracket after deductions, i.e. the effective tax rate.  They were presented the current effective tax rate for each income bracket and given the opportunity to propose what they thought it should be.

Though both the House and Senate tax bills would result in reductions in the effective tax rates for incomes over $200,000, only 23% of respondents proposed reductions for incomes $200-$500,000, dropping to 20% for incomes $500,000 to $1 million, and 19% for incomes above $1 million.  Among Republicans, fewer than four in ten (39%) favored reductions for incomes from $200-$500,000, dropping to 32% for incomes over $1 million.

Instead, overall majorities favored increasing taxes by 5 percent or more for incomes of $200,000-$500,000 (54% favored), $500,000 to $1 million (60%), and over $1 million (62%).  Among Republicans, less than a majority favored increasing taxes on the wealthy, but 45% favored increasing taxes on incomes over $500,000 and 47% for incomes over $1 million.

According to the recently released scoring from the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, the net effect of the House and Senate bills would be to lower the average taxes by 5-8 percent for incomes of $200-$500,000, by 5-10 percent for incomes $500-$100,000, and by 6-8 percent for incomes above $1 million.

Though very large majorities found convincing the arguments for lowering taxes on the middle class, only modest majorities proposed reducing taxes on those with incomes from $30-$40,000 (52%) and $40-$50,000 (54%) by 5% or more. This included substantial majorities of Republicans, but only half of Democrats.  For income of $50,000 to $100,000, there was not majority support for decreases, but 56% of Republicans cut taxes by 5 percent or more on incomes of $50-$75,000 and 54% on incomes of $75-$100,000.

According to the Joint Committee on Taxation report, the net effect of the House and Senate bills would be to lower the average taxes by 7-9 percent for incomes of $30-$50,000, and 7-9 percent for incomes of $50-$100,000.

The least popular proposal was one that appears in both the House and Senate bills, establishing a territorial tax system which would eliminate the corporate income tax on profits made by subsidiaries in other countries.  Though they heard the arguments that this would make US corporations more competitive and encourage repatriation of profits, 68% opposed the idea. Republicans were divided with 49% in favor and 50% opposed.

Steven Kull commented, “Republicans and Democrats diverge sharply on lowering most corporate taxes, with the exception of eliminating tax for overseas subsidiaries, on which Republicans are divided.  On individual taxes, Democrats and Republicans find some common ground, especially in opposing tax cuts for high incomes and fully eliminating the state and local deductions.”

Several proposals elicited divided responses overall, with sharp partisan divisions.  Setting a new top tax rate of 25 percent for pass-through businesses (as called for in the House bill) was favored by 49% and opposed by 50%, with three quarters of Republicans in favor and three quarter of Democrats opposed. The Senate bill lowers the rate even further.

Allowing immediate expensing of business investments for a five-year period (as called for in the House bill) was favored by 50% and opposed by 49%, with 74% of Republicans in favor and 72% of Democrats opposed.  The Senate bill has a more complex formula for allowing immediate expensing.

On the House bill proposal to lower the maximum amount of deductible interest for new mortgages to the interest paid on $500,000, 50% were in favor, 49% opposed, with 60% of Republicans in favor and 58% of Democrats opposed.  The Senate bill maintains the current cap of $1 million.

For the estate tax, the House bill calls for doubling the amount of assets that can be transferred tax-free for the next six years and then completely eliminates the tax.  This idea was opposed by 53%, including 75% of Democrats and 59% of independents.  However, 73% of Republicans favored it.  The Senate bill also doubles the amount of tax-free transfers, but does not eliminate the tax in six years.

On the broader question of whether tax revenues should be reduced, 54% favored some reduction, but 51% thought that $1.5 trillion over the next decade went too far, including 76% of Democrats and 54% of independents.  Seventy seven percent of Republicans thought that the $1.5 trillion reduction was acceptable.

The survey was conducted online with a national probability-based sample of 1,750 registered voters, provided by Nielsen Scarborough from Nielsen Scarborough’s sample of respondents, who were recruited by mail and telephone using a random sample of households. The margin of error was +/- 2.3%.

Download “Americans on Tax Reform” report at: http://vop.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Tax_Reform_Report.pdf

Download Powerpoint Presentation: http://vop.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Tax_Reform_Slides.pdf 

Download Questionnaire: http://vop.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Tax_Reform_Quaire.pdf




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