The public is well aware of the unfairness in our tax system and wants change. This sentiment is explicitly found in a just-released CBS/New York Times poll, where 55 percent said upper-income Americans pay less than their fair share of taxes, compared to just 11 percent who said they pay more than their fair share and 24 percent who said they pay about the right amount.
One way to make upper-income Americans pay a fairer share of taxes is to treat capital gains and dividends—currently taxed at only 15 percent—the same as income from work. In the same poll, the public approved of taxing capital gains at the same rate as work income by 52-36.
Given current high levels of inequality, the case for tax reform that promotes fairness has never been more compelling. The public is clearly ready for change and no amount of conservative sputtering about “class warfare” is likely to dissuade them.
Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis, go to the Media and Progressive Values page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.