Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey

Even Government Workers Support a Flat Tax

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previous post detailed differences of opinion between private sector and public sector workers on public sector compensation and collective bargaining.  Further analysis reveals an interesting difference and a point of agreement between the two groups.

The Reason-Rupe poll found private sector workers are more likely to support reducing Social Security taxes and allowing individuals to invest in their own retirements instead. Nearly half, 49 percent, of private sector workers support reducing Social Security taxes and allowing them to invest in their own retirement accounts. The numbers are flipped for government workers, with half of them, 50 percent, opposed and just 37 percent in favor of reducing Social Security taxes and allowing individuals to invest in their own retirements. 

Interestingly public and private sector workers agree on federal income tax rates. Both groups favor replacing the federal income tax with a flat tax. Sixty percent of private sector workers and 55 percent of government employees support eliminating the current complicated federal income tax system and replacing it with a flat tax.

The flat tax findings for the two groups are right in line with the overall poll results for that question, where 56 percent of Americans said they favor a flat tax.

Q: For the following proposals, please tell me whether you would strongly support, somewhat support, neither support nor oppose, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose each one.

-Changing the federal tax system to a ?at tax, where everyone pays the same percentage of their income.

Answers:

Strongly Support 35.2
Somewhat Support 21.0
Neither Support nor Oppose 7.9
Somewhat Oppose 9.6
Strongly Oppose 22.0
Don't Know/ No Response 4.3

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  1. Huh? Favor an income tax or a “flat” income tax? What kind of question is that? I favor ZERO income tax.

  2. Government work has changed a bit. With the .gov being the biggest employer around, and paying more competitive wages, it draws more people who wouldn’t have considered .gov work in past generations, including people with libertarian leanings – a brother’s gotta eat, right? Moreover, if anything is able to convince a person of the futility of big government and the wisdom of libertarianism at least as an informing philosophy if not a governing philosophy, it’s working on the inside of a big government program. Plus who wants their retirement to be at the whim of the elected representatives? Them suckers is crazy.

  3. The “SuperFlatTax” has both a
    (flat tax base) and (a flat tax rate).
    The tax base is defined as
    “money received from whatever source”.
    With such a large tax base ($200T+),
    the tax raste is less than 1%.

  4. Interesting result re Social Security, since a great many public sector employees are not in it, but they want it preserved as is, whereas almost all private sector employees are in it but want it changed. The private sector, erstwhile beneficiaries would like to see SS taxes cut and an alternative, whereeas public sector employees who don’t have a dog in the fight think otherwise. Suggests to me widespread fear among those in SS that their benefits may not be secrure, and a lackadaisical attitude on teh part of the unaffected public employees. Hmmm?

  5. Interesting result re Social Security, since a great many public sector employees are not in it

    That was a good talking point in 1985 when it was true.

    Suggests to me widespread fear among those in SS that their benefits may not be secrure, and a lackadaisical attitude on teh part of the unaffected public employees. Hmmm?

    13% of them more than the general public, you mean? And it’s adorable that you think anyone is unaffected by the catastrophic unfunded liabilities.

    THIS JUST IN: Public workers generally share just about the same opinion of the government as everyone else does.

    I’m a federal employee and I have a proposal for eliminating all public defined benefit plans, including for most current employees.

  6. I suspect an overwhelming positive response would accrue to a proposal to tax everyone’s DISPOSABLE income at the same rate. How to define “DISPOSABLE”? Anything over the minimum wage, education and health care costs. I’d add savings as they, like education and health care, contribute to productivity, thus growth in the tax base. I’d appreciate comments here or as sent to tbeebe6535@yahoo.com.

    1. Create a standard deduction that is 1/2 the median income, one flat rate for everything above that. The rate is set automatically based on the budget, so that if some Congresscritter wants a billion dollars for some bridge to nowhere, he is effectively proposing to raise the taxes of the whole country. I expect that this would lead to positive results pretty quickly.

      Or make it 1/4 median income and allow deductions for health care, charity, etc. But then you’d start seeing mission creep, as well as nitpicking what should and shouldn’t count. It’s probably better to just be as simple as possible.

      1. I like it, until you get to where we are now with one side insisting that the government should not have any funding.

        But I think there’s an easy tweak. How about if the level of the budget decides where the standard deduction starts? In other words, change it from starting to tax at $25,000 of income instead of $22,000, and leave the tax rate the same?

        IMHO, there should be a requirement that it covers ALL income, none of the “capital gains/interest/dividends are completely different than salary” garbage to dodge paying. If you have money coming in, it’s income, it counts.

  7. I like a flat tax, as long as the rate is zero percent on all income.

  8. How about a per capita tax? Take total government spending, and divide by the number of adults in the country. If you can’t afford your $15,000 share, the Fed prints it for you and it adds to your debts (your own personal T-bill, so to speak.)

    I bet a lot more people would want less government spending in that scenario.

    1. Except you’re leaving off corporations and the various fees/other income that also go to funding the government. It’s not just per-capita spending.

  9. The income tax is inherently flawed, because it requires the government to know a lot about your financial affairs. (This criticism is separate from all the loopholes, deductions, etc.)

    A better tax would be on land, since that is a measurable, finite quantity that is a foundation for (most) consumption. Yes, a billionaire who lives in an apartment would pay zero tax _directly_, but will pay a lot of taxes through his/her consumption. With a land tax (no exemptions), we can calculate the exact tax revenue to the penny. If you don’t pay your tax, the government takes your land and sells it–no tax evaders 🙂

    All other taxes/tariffs should be completely eliminated.

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