This report reviews public opinion on tax policy and the tax system in the years leading up to the passage of the TCJA, including underlying attitudes toward who benefitted from the tax system and the relationship of taxation to perceptions of deficits, government spending, and the overall economy. With that baseline established, this report then looks at how Americans view the TCJA and its potential impact on next month’s midterms, including which messages about the law are most persuasive to voters.
Americans have been split on which party is more trusted to handle the issue of taxes the past few months, just like they have been over the last several years, and Republicans’ historical advantage on it is slipping. Navigator polling finds that Americans in fact favor raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations and oppose the new tax law.
There are good reasons why public opinion of tax policy and politics are so closely contested: The core arguments made by progressives and conservatives both have strong appeal and, even in era of partisan polarization at an all-time high, those appeals cut across party and ideological lines.
These views are well-entrenched and are not likely to be changed by campaign ads or claims by elected officials and candidates. These views may also often surprise the prevailing conventional wisdom about how Americans view taxes, contradicting widely held assumptions about public priorities, views of tax cuts, and the relationship between tax and economic policy. The evolution of the American people’s perceptions on taxes has evolved in a decidedly more populist and progressive direction, suggesting Democrats and progressives are positioned to benefit from constantly making the case against conservative philosophy on the economy and the new tax law. Republicans, on the other hand, are likely to find themselves in a weaker position than in years past after vigorously defending substantial tax cuts for the wealthy and large corporations.