What Bugs People The Most About Taxes

by Mia Mercado

Taxes: an obligation so beloved by all, Ben Franklin famously compared them to the experience of actual death. If you’re curious just how much everyone hates taxes, Pew Research Center released a new study on the top frustrations with the tax system — and honestly, the results aren't all that surprising. A lot of it has to do with fairness; as many people see it, the system is inherently unfair based on who gets the biggest cuts vs. who pays the highest percentage of their income.

If you’re like, “Why are we even talking about taxes right now?”, you’re going to need to sit down for a moment: Taxes are due April 18. Lest you think yourself alone in your last-minute tax prep, procrastinating doing your taxes is as American as complaining about doing your taxes. About one in seven people procrastinated doing their taxes in 2016, filing them the week of Tax Day. So, here’s one of your final reminders to get those taxes in, hopefully avoiding one of the common tax filing mistakes people make, and get yourself one step closer to that sweet, sweet tax refund.

Pew surveyed 1,501 adults at the beginning of this month to find out what about taxes gets people in their feelings. They asked people to rate certain aspects of the tax system by how much it bothered them (a lot, some, not much/not at all). Just how bothered is everyone? Unsurprisingly, pretty bothered.

The System Is Unfair

A growing majority of people find the overall tax system unfair to some degree. 56 percent of people say the federal tax system is either “not too fair” or “not fair at all.” That’s up from 48 percent of people who said the same last year. While opinions about the fairness of the tax system is usually pretty evenly divided, this is the highest it’s been on the “v. unfair” side in 10 years.

Some People Aren't Paying Enough

Overall, 62 percent of people say they’re bothered “a lot” by the feeling that some corporations aren’t paying their fair share of taxes. Similarly, 60 percent of people are bothered “a lot” by wealthy people not paying their fair share. Only 20 percent say the same about poor people.

But It Depends Who You’re Talking To

Those percentages shift significantly depending on which political party you’re talking to. When it comes to corporations paying their fair share in taxes, 75 percent of Democrats are concerned as opposed to 44 percent of Republicans. The same goes for being bothered by the rich paying their fair share: 76 percent of Democrats are bothered a lot by it, while only 40 percent of Republicans say the same.

Each party seems to be trending in opposite directions when it comes to corporations and the wealthy paying their fair share. There is an increase from 2015 in the percent of Democrats who believe corporations and wealthy people aren’t paying enough. The percentage of Republicans who say the same is decreasing a more rapid rate. (55 percent of Republicans said corporations don’t pay their fair share in 2015 versus 44 percent saying the same in 2017.)

When it comes to poor people paying taxes, Republicans are more bothered than Democrats with 26 percent saying some poor people don’t pay their fair share. 15 percent of Democrats say the same.

Taxes Are ~*So Complicated*~

43 percent of people surveyed were bothered “a lot” by the complexity of the tax system. Republicans were slightly more frustrated than Democrats, with 49 percent saying the system is too complex. For Democrats, 39 percent say the same.

But People Aren’t Super Bothered By How Much They’re Paying

Only 27 percent of people say they are bothered a lot by how much they pay in taxes. Again this shifts when you look at party lines, with 35 percent of Republicans and 21 percent of Democrats being concerned about how much they pay.

However, it remains fairly stable across all income levels. Among every income category surveyed, only about three in 10 people were bothered “a lot” by how much they pay in taxes.

When you shift the wording slightly, the story changes. When asked if they believe they pay “more than their fare share” of taxes, 52 percent of people who made $100,000+ said yes. That is the only income category where a majority of respondents thought they were paying too much.

Depending on your party affiliations, that may not surprise you. In fact, this none of this may be particularly surprising given how widely disliked taxes are. In a 2013 survey, 56 percent of people said they dislike doing taxes to some degree, with 26 percent saying they hate it. If nothing else, you can rest assured you are not alone in your disdain for W-2s.