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Survey: Americans want tax reform that raises revenue

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John Taggart | Bloomberg | Getty Images

As President Trump mulls the final version of his proposed tax reform, most Americans say they would prefer changes that increase revenue and not raise the national deficit, according to a new survey expected to be released Thursday.

For its survey, the University of Maryland's Program for Public Consultation (PPC) recruited 1,800 registered voters and gave them instructions online to simulate the nation's tax code. They were allowed to make tax rate changes in the six tax categories mentioned by Trump to come up with their preferred levels of tax revenue hikes or cuts.

In September, Trump, as a candidate, promised to enact changes to the tax code by cutting personal and corporate taxes. He also wants to cut taxes on capital gains and dividends, as well as eliminate the estate tax. He also mentioned providing tax relief to "pass-through" small businesses, typically formed as sole proprietorship or partnerships.

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As President Trump mulls the final version of his proposed tax reform, most Americans say they would prefer changes that increase revenue and not raise the national deficit, according to a new survey expected to be released Thursday.

For its survey, the University of Maryland's Program for Public Consultation (PPC) recruited 1,800 registered voters and gave them instructions online to simulate the nation's tax code. They were allowed to make tax rate changes in the six tax categories mentioned by Trump to come up with their preferred levels of tax revenue hikes or cuts.

In September, Trump, as a candidate, promised to enact changes to the tax code by cutting personal and corporate taxes. He also wants to cut taxes on capital gains and dividends, as well as eliminate the estate tax. He also mentioned providing tax relief to "pass-through" small businesses, typically formed as sole proprietorship or partnerships.

In general, the majority agreed to raise income taxes for wealthy individuals and capital gains and dividends, as well as higher rates for corporations. They opposed eliminating the estate tax or cutting taxes on pass-through business owners.

PPC is a nonpartisan organization and conducted the research because its guiding principle is that "the public view should be heard," Kull says.

"The American public appears to be far more concerned about the deficit than the president," Kull says. "One of Trump's repeated comments was 'I will listen to you.' Just because you're elected doesn't mean that you're aligned with the will of the people."

Other preferences stated by survey respondents:

*Personal income taxes. Trump has called for reducing the top marginal tax bracket from 39.3% to 33%. In the survey, a "slight" majority raised taxes on incomes starting at $100,000 (the top 22% of earners) by 5%.

The survey also said 52% of respondents are willing to raise taxes by 10% for those making $1 million or more.

*Capital gains and dividends. Trump wants to cut capital gains and dividends to a rate that is half that of ordinary salary and wages, with a maximum rate of 16.5%. Only 15% of respondents endorsed this idea.

Meanwhile, 63% favored raising the rate from 23.8% to 28% for high-income earners (those with incomes of $430,000).

*Corporate taxes. Trump wants to cut the top marginal corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%. The effective tax rate – or the average rate at which corporations are actually taxed – is 19.2%. A majority, or 53% of respondents, wants to raise the effective rate to 20.2%.

The survey noted that a solid majority of Democrats, 64%, wants to raise the rate, while 41% of Republicans favored the idea.