PAYING UP

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Americans' attitude toward taxation is consistent: the majority has always wanted to pay less. Gallup has tracked such views since 1947. In a pre-tax day poll taken in April of last year, 65 percent said their taxes are too high, 31 percent said they're about right and only 1 percent complained that their taxes are too low. (In 54 years of polling, this last opinion has never claimed more than 2 percent of public support.)

While Americans think they're paying too much, a majority (51 percent) nonetheless admits that their payments are fair. This percentage has fallen since the 1940s, when it peaked at 90 percent in 1944. With America then at war, the public was most likely moved to contribute whatever it could to the government's military efforts. It will be interesting to see if this year — assuming the military action in Afghanistan continues — Americans will be equally gung-ho about their tax payments. Will patriotism guarantee proud payment?

Surprisingly, almost one-quarter of Americans (24 percent) claim to like or love doing their income taxes. More typically, others have a less favorable view: 35 percent say they dislike the task, and 31 percent say they hate it. According to Gallup, the main determinant of one's attitude is income level. The lower the income, the higher the degree of enjoyment derived from paying taxes. More than one-third (34 percent) of those earning under $20,000 say they like or love paying taxes, compared with 16 percent of those from households making more than $75,000. Perhaps the not as wealthy get less upset because they're kissing fewer dollars goodbye.

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