Americans: reducing tax burden not unpatriotic – unless you’re a corporation

William JordanUS Elections Editor
August 06, 2014, 2:17 PM GMT+0

Most Americans say there’s nothing patriotic or unpatriotic about paying your own taxes, but many doubt the patriotism of corporate tax “inversion” deals

The Obama administration is considering new action to combat a tactic major corporations are using to avoid paying US taxes. The measures being weighed will focus eliminating the incentive of on so-called “inversion” deals, where US-based companies reincorporate in a foreign country in order to pay corporate taxes at a lower rate. Both President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, whose department will be responsible for the changes, have said these deals show a lack of “economic patriotism” and called on Congress to take action.

A new YouGov poll reveals that most Americans say paying taxes at the individual level has nothing to do with patriotism, but the number who take that view drops significantly when asking about tax inversion deals.

In 2008, then-Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden called it “patriotic” for higher income Americans to embrace a higher tax rate, a sentiment that has since been echoed by other prominent Democrats. Most Americans appear to disagree with the view in principle. More (23%) say it is patriotic to pay one’s “fair share” of taxes than say it’s unpatriotic (3%), but nearly two-thirds (64% ) of the public – including 52% of Democrats and 72% of Republicans – say it has nothing to do with paying taxes.

Two-thirds (68%) say the same thing when it comes to “using legal ways to reduce your taxes”, as many Americans do (just over half of respondents said they itemize their taxes or hire someone to prepare their taxes for them).

Family income does not appear to have too much to do with views on either question, although those with higher earning families (those earning $80,000 or more) were slightly more likely to say paying your fair share of taxes is patriotic and to say legally reducing your tax burden has nothing to do with patriotism.

However, Americans are divided on whether the tax inversion tactic used by some US companies is a matter of patriotism. Many – 45% – maintain that it is not. However, roughly the same number (42%) believe it is a matter of patriotism, and the vast majority of those who (37% of the public) do say tax inversion is unpatriotic rather than patriotic (5%).

The number of companies deciding to reincorporate overseas has increased recently, adding urgency to the White House’s consideration of the issue. However, it remains unclear how much the federal government can achieve without legislation. The Treasury Department is reportedly working to determine what is driving the recent flood of deals while also investigating what powers it has to restrict them.

Image: PA

Full poll results can be found here.