Fifty-one percent of adults believe that the Bush tax cuts should be allowed to expire for wealthy families, but should be extended for middle- and lower-class families.

A CNN/Opinion Research poll released Friday showed a narrow majority for one option lawmakers are considering for handling the Bush tax cuts, which are set to expire at the end of this year. 


Asked which of the following statements comes closest to their view, 51 percent said "those tax cuts should continue for families that make less than 250 thousand dollars a year, but taxes should rise to the previous level for families who make more than that amount."

Thirty-one percent said that "those tax cuts should continue for all Americans regardless of how much money they make." Eighteen percent said "taxes should rise to the previous level for all Americans regardless of how much money they make."

An extension of the Bush tax cuts is one of the most contentious issues lawmakers are likely to take up before the current Congress ends after this year.

Most Republicans want the tax cuts extended for all Americans, arguing that raising taxes while the country is recovering from a major recession would be catastrophic.

Democrats have been divided on the issue. Some want them done away with completely, saying they contributed to the federal budget deficit and let the wealthy off the hook from paying their fair share of taxes.

Others want individuals making less than $200,000 and families earning less than $250,000 to keep their current tax rates and to eliminate the cuts for those making more than those income amounts.

Sixty-seven percent of Democrats and 40 percent of Republicans polled prefer that option, along with 44 percent of independents. 

Fifty percent of Republicans want the cuts extended for all, compared to 13 percent of Democrats and 34 percent of independents.

Eliminating the tax cuts for all receives the least support. Just 21 percent of independents, 20 percent of Democrats and 10 percent of Republicans want that option.