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Poll suggests unpopularity of taxation knows no bounds

WASHINGTON -- Taxes rise and fall from one administration to the next, but the unpopularity of the income tax system is constant.

An Ipsos Poll suggests that almost six of 10 respondents say the system is unfair, a percentage virtually unchanged from two decades ago.

The perception of unfairness is spread across income groups, though their reasons may differ. More than half of the respondents who make less than $50,000 a year said it's unfair, and more than six in 10 of those who make more than $50,000 felt that way.

Unhappiness with the tax system was spread fairly evenly across income groups, age groups, and education levels.

A majority of those surveyed said the middle class, the self-employed, and small businesses pay too much in taxes, and those with high incomes and big businesses don't pay enough.

Some in the survey, which was conducted from April 11 to 13, contended that the income tax burden remains unfairly placed on those with high incomes -- saying the top 5 percent pay an inordinate share. And some expressed concern about the wealthy getting too many tax breaks.

The Reagan administration led a tax overhaul two decades ago that significantly lowered tax rates and eliminated or reduced several deductions.

The Clinton administration won passage in 1993 of a deficit-reduction measure that blended tax increases, budget cuts, and rebates for the working poor.

And the second Bush administration pushed successfully for tax cuts that lowered the top income tax rate to 35 percent and slashed tax rates for individuals and manufacturers.

More than half in the poll, 58 percent, said middle-income families pay too much income tax. People were almost as likely, 54 percent, to say that about low-income families.

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