Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Demonstrators march against wealth inequality in New York City on July 17, 2020. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

People participate in a "March on Billionaires" event on July 17, 2020 in New York City. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Poll: Two-Thirds of Americans Favor Raising Taxes on Incomes Over $400K

A majority of respondents—regardless of political affiliation—also back tuition-free college for students whose families earn less than $125,000 annually.

Brett Wilkins

A compelling majority of Americans favor raising taxes on people who make more than $400,000 per year, according to a new poll published Thursday by the New York Times and Survey Monkey.

According to the poll, fully two-thirds of Americans support a tax hike for anyone whose annual income exceeds $400,000, while maintaining current taxation levels for those earning less than that amount. 

"Nobody making under 400,000 bucks would have their taxes raised, period, bingo."
—Joe Biden, May 2020

Among people who identify as either Democrats or Democrat-leaning, support for raising taxes on those making more than $400,000 is, at 88%, overwhelming. A solid 70% of self-described independents back such an increase, while nearly half (45%) of people identifying as Republicans or Republican-leaning favor the hike. 

Among wealthier Americans—those earning $150,000 or more annually—62% said people making more than $400,000 should pay more tax. 

A U.S. worker who is paid $400,000 falls just below the threshold of the top 1%, according to figures from the Economic Policy Institute. 

The issue, and the $400,000 figure, made headlines during the 2020 presidential election when Democratic nominee Joe Biden pledged that "nobody making under 400,000 bucks would have their taxes raised, period, bingo."

Since the election, the president-elect has affirmed his plan to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, but not on anyone earning less than $400,000. Biden's tax plan would raise the top tax rate for people with the highest incomes to 39.6%.

On related issues of economic inequality, the new survey also found that nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents favor making four-year public colleges and universities tuition-free for any students whose families earn less than $125,000 annually. There was even a wider ideological gap on this issue, with 87% of Democrats but only 36% of Republicans backing the policy. People without four-year college degrees favored the measure over those with degrees, 65% to 60%. 

The poll also found overwhelming support for emergency paid leave for sick gig and seasonal economy workers during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with 84% of all respondents backing the move. Almost all—96%—Democrats, 88% of independents, and 73% of Republicans favored this proposal. 

The survey comes a day after the Economic Policy Institute released an analysis of new U.S. wage data showing that the yearly income of the top 1% in the U.S.—which averaged nearly $738,000 in 2018—skyrocketed 160% between 1979 and 2019, while wages for the bottom 90% rose just 26% over the same 40-year period. The top 0.1%, those making an average of $2.82 million, enjoyed a staggering 345% gain since 1979.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Indignation as Michigan Judge Drops Flint Water Charges Against GOP Ex-Gov Snyder

"The people of Flint deserve justice—and it's unacceptable that the people responsible for Flint's water crisis aren't being held accountable," said Food & Water Watch in response to the development.

Brett Wilkins ·


70+ Lawmakers Tell Biden 'You Can and You Must' Provide Rail Workers Paid Sick Leave

"As president, you and your administration have a number of tools at your disposal to make sure rail workers are guaranteed paid sick leave," wrote the lawmakers.

Julia Conley ·


COP15 Biodiversity Summit Highlights 'Deadly' US Attitude Toward the World

"While others play by the rules, the most powerful nation refuses," writes George Monbiot. "If this country were a person, we'd call it a psychopath. As it is not a person, we should call it what it is: a rogue state."

Jessica Corbett ·


Final House Covid Panel Report Exposes 'Reckless' Trump Pandemic Response

The publication accuses top Trump officials of "failed stewardship" and a "persistent pattern of political interference" that undermined the nation's response to a pandemic that has killed more than a million people in the United States.

Brett Wilkins ·


As NYT Staffers Strike, Sanders Calls for 'New Ways to Empower' Workers Battling Industry Giants

"We need to rebuild and protect a diverse and truly independent press so that real journalists and media workers can do the critical jobs that they love, and that a functioning democracy requires," said the Vermont progressive.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo