Poll: Majority oppose GOP tax-reform bill

Poll: Majority oppose GOP tax-reform bill
© Greg Nash

A majority of voters oppose the Republican tax-reform bill and believe it will hurt them financially, according to a new poll.

According to the latest Harvard-Harris Poll survey, 54 percent say they oppose the Republican tax reform bill. The same amount — 54 percent — say the GOP plan is more likely to hurt them financially. Three-quarters of Republicans say it will help them financially, while 77 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of independents say it will hurt them.

House Republicans are expected pass a sweeping tax reform package on Thursday, moving the GOP closer to fulfilling a key election year promise before the end of President Trump’s first year in office. Trump is on Capitol Hill to rally support for the bill, although there is little doubt that it will pass.

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There is widespread public support for Congress to cut taxes on individuals and small businesses and to simplify the tax code. Seventy-three percent of voters say they support broad efforts to overhaul the tax code, but the GOP plan is not viewed as the best way forward, the Harvard-Harris survey found.

“There is enormous support for tax reform in the country and the Republicans are close to getting majority support for their bill but are falling short as Democrats have so far successfully challenged whether most people are actually getting a tax cut,” said Harvard-Harris co-director Mark Penn. “Most people think they are not getting a tax cut and Republicans need to fix that to unlock support.”

The GOP bill would cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent while eliminating many deductions for companies. But 58 percent of voters say cutting corporate tax rates will benefit companies more than individuals. Fifty-seven percent say they oppose reducing the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent.

Rather, 64 percent of voters say they want to see taxes lowered on small businesses. Seventy-four percent want to see the number of tax brackets slashed from seven to four, an idea that was laid out in the White House tax proposal.

And a strong majority — 75 percent — say state and local taxes (SALT) should remain deductible. Sixty percent say they oppose eliminating the ability to deduct state and local property taxes from federal taxes in an effort to raise more money to pay for tax cuts elsewhere.

The House bill preserves state and local property tax deductions but caps them at $10,000.

The Senate version of the bill completely eliminates the SALT deductions, which are particularly popular in blue states like California, New York and New Jersey.

Some GOP lawmakers in the House from those states say they can support the House bill because it keeps a $10,000 deduction for local property taxes. But without at least that concession, it is possible that blue-state Republicans could revolt against a bill that eliminates SALT entirely.

There is majority support in the Harvard-Harris survey for letting people take up to 5 percent of their income off for state and local taxes paid, leaving in place unlimited state and local tax deductions, or putting a $10,000 cap on state and local deductions.

But a strong majority of voters oppose making it so that state and local taxes are not deductible at all.

“Democrats have a winning message in SALT, as most people think it’s wrong to pay taxes on taxes,” Penn said.

The Harvard-Harris Poll online survey of 2,350 registered voters was conducted from Nov. 11 to 14. The partisan breakdown is 37 percent Democrat, 32 percent Republican, 28 percent independent and 3 percent other.

The Harvard-Harris Poll is a collaboration of the Harvard Center for American Political Studies and The Harris Poll. The Hill will be working with Harvard-Harris Poll throughout 2017. 

Full poll results will be posted online later this week. The Harvard–Harris Poll survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval.