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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.


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