April 15th, 2010
05:00 AM ET
4 years ago

CNN Poll: Most Americans say their tax dollars are wasted

Washington (CNN) - Nearly three-quarters of Americans say that the government wastes their tax dollars, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday also indicates that roughly half the public believes the tax system is unfair, and as a result, four in 10 say they're angry about the amount of taxes that they pay.

Full results (pdf)

Seventy-four percent of people questioned say that a lot of their tax dollars are wasted by the government; 23 percent say that some of their tax dollars are misspent and three percent say that not much of their tax dollars are wasted.

Americans are split on their overall opinion of the country's tax system: 49 percent say it's fair and 50 percent say it's unfair, according to the poll.

"Six in 10 Democrats say that the tax system is fair," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Republicans are split down the middle, with 49 percent calling it fair and 51 percent thinking it is unfair."

Four in 10 questioned say that they are angry about the amount of taxes they pay; 36 percent say they're satisfied and just under one in four say they don't have particular feelings on the issue. Nearly half of Republicans questioned say they're angry, but that figure drops to 44 percent among Independents and 29 percent among Democrats.

The poll indicates growing public frustration with taxes over the past couple of decades.

"This is a significantly higher level of anger than existed during the 1980s," adds Holland. "In 1985, only 27 percent were angry about the amount of taxes they had to pay - possibly a reflection of the tax cuts that Ronald Reagan instituted in his first year in office."

But it appears that Americans aren't taking their anger out on the Internal Revenue Service.

"Only a quarter of all Americans think that the Internal Revenue Service should be abolished," says Holland.

Six in 10 say that the tax cuts passed in 2001 under George W. Bush that are set to expire this year should be made permanent, according to the survey.

The poll was conducted April 9-11, with 1,008 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.


- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: CNN poll • Taxes
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Jim

    Everyone wants to have their taxes cut, but not their programs. I was just reading about a teabagger who wants smaller government, except for Social Security because it turns out they get Social Security. It always looks wasteful when you aren't getting it. Americans need to grow up and stop trying to get government services without paying taxes.

    April 15, 2010 05:20 am at 5:20 am |
  2. Bob True American

    Would be a better poll if it was done by your income level. Betcha the biggest complainers would be the ones making the most money who hate to pay their fair share.

    April 15, 2010 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  3. Marie MD

    The IRS is necessary. Why not go after those who don't pay taxes while the rest of us do.
    Yes, our tax dollars are being wasted mainly in one war that should have never happened!

    April 15, 2010 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  4. Whatnextnow

    All this money being spent is all hidden from the taxpayers, I say more investigation on all this and it must be stopped. No wonder the country is going broke. The people should have to ok what is spent, not a few spend crazy people in Washington, that like to spend others money.

    April 15, 2010 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  5. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Do any of really like paying taxes? I don't think so, but I pay them because it is the proper thing to do. Besides, there are many projects and programs that the government does that I approve of and enjoy. Besides, the private sector and the rich don't want to seem to do them - food banks, envrinomental protection protecting those that get robbed be it be an armed robber or someone who committs fraud.

    April 15, 2010 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  6. Johnny DC

    How is a tax system where the smallest percentage of people pay the lion's share of the taxes a fair system? Of course it's unfair. But then again, the government has to get its money from somewhere to be able to afford such important programs as Cash for Clunkers, and the First Time Homebuyer program.

    Entitlement programs and wealth redistribution programs are simply jokes.

    April 15, 2010 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  7. Rush is to far left

    Here is some financial reform:
    1. Stop giving money to the welfare parasites.
    2. Send all illegal's back to whatever country they came from, yes an initial cost but savings in the long run. Leaving jobs available for the welfare parasites. Maybe they can then pull their own weight and be worth something in the world.
    3. Repeal the recent health care reform bill and do it right. Fix only the broken parts. Leave the rest alone.

    April 15, 2010 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  8. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    "Six in 10 Democrats say that the tax system is fair."

    Yeah, the same six who don't pay any taxes at all. Hey, what could be fairer? They park in the social safety hammock while someone else pays their bills.

    April 15, 2010 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  9. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    "Six in 10 say that the tax cuts passed in 2001 under George W. Bush that are set to expire this year should be made permanent, according to the survey."

    And almost six in 10 Americans say Obamacare ought to be repealed.

    But with the far-left triumvirate of Obama, Pelosi, and Reid running things, the odds of either of these events actually occurring is exactly zero.

    Isn't it great to live in a Democracy?

    April 15, 2010 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  10. michael

    all this proves is how effective mainstream media propoganda is well done cnn .media tells them constantly the govt cant run anything for years what other poll result would you expect. even though its an outright lie , what about the police , the fire dept , the army , etc alll these things the govenment bye an large runs well , so who says the govenment cant run anything , THATS THAT LIE DEBUNKED CNN . time for you to go back tour your boston tea party cnn oh what were they protesting ? thats right tax cuts IRONIC YOU NEVER MENTION THAT .

    April 15, 2010 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  11. Gil

    I seem to find my Interstate driving very modern and up to date, the schools running smoothly in my community, my social security deposited on time monthly, medicare payments being made. I think we have the sore loser complex in so many people now fueled by the Party of No and the teabuggers! I'm satisfied, but no nothing is perfect!

    April 15, 2010 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  12. Joe

    Why would a reputable news organization like CNN spend resources on a poll like this or bother reporting the results. NOBODY likes paying taxes; so, of course, we're all going to assume that we could spend that money better than the government does. That said, freedom (and things like roads, airports, schools, and Social Security) aren't free. I don't like paying taxes any better than anybody else. But the fact is, they are a way of life (regardless of what country you live it). I'm tired of these "patriotic" Americans who feel that they have responsibility to support the common good (but yet expect the highest in quality when it comes to government services). These people have a warped sense of reality and providing fodder to that notion with this type of poll and resulting coverage just gives credibility to their insanity.

    April 15, 2010 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  13. Tony in Maine

    Money is wasted if it is not spent on projects or programs that directly benefit the great I AM (as in "don't you know who...)

    Most Americans believe what the last drooler on Fox or CNN shrieked which makes most Americans followers of droolers.

    April 15, 2010 08:45 am at 8:45 am |