Capitol Alert

Field Poll: California voters think income taxes are too high

A customer prepares to fill out tax forms at a Block Advisors office in San Francisco on March 2.
A customer prepares to fill out tax forms at a Block Advisors office in San Francisco on March 2. Bloomberg

With the 2016 tax deadline on the horizon, it’s the time of year Californians grumble about Uncle Sam slashing their income.

In fact, a new poll found that 54 percent of Golden State voters think they pay too much income tax. The latest Field Poll also shows that 40 percent of Californians actually believe they’re taxed just enough. Only 2 percent said taxes are too low.

Party affiliations and income levels played a significant part in beliefs about taxes. Four out of five Republicans think taxes are too high, while 52 percent of Democrats are OK with the current tax rates. People in the lowest income bracket in the survey, earning less than $40,000 a year, were least likely to gripe about paying their government dues.

The issue of taxation is particularly relevant as California prepares to weigh in on the presidential race. Each candidate is pitching a different proposal to mend the nation’s tax system.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s plan would set tax rates anywhere from 10 percent to 43.6 percent of income, while Bernie Sanders’ proposal ranges from a 12.2 percent tax on the lowest earners to 54.2 percent on the highest. Republican front-runner Donald Trump intends to eliminate income taxes for those who earn up to $25,000 and levy a 25 percent tax on individuals who take home $150,000 or more, according to an analysis from The Tax Foundation. Ted Cruz wants to establish a flat income tax of 10 percent across the board.


The Field Poll also found that nearly half, or 48 percent, of California voters said they are better off financially than a year ago. The data mark very little change from last year, and pollster Mark DiCamillo says the results reflect consumers continuing to climb out of the recession. Households that earned $100,000 or more were the most likely to say their situations have improved.

“You’re starting to see almost half of the public now say their financial situation has improved this year,” DiCamillo said. “That’s three times as many of who said it back in 2008.”

Overall, 46 percent of voters said California’s economy is in “bad times,” which is similar to attitudes a year ago. Bay Area residents were a bit more optimistic, with 54 percent describing the state economy as in “good times.”

The poll comes after California’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 percent in February, the most recent available data, from 6.7 percent in the same month a year ago. Meanwhile, national consumer confidence increased to 96.2 in March, up from 94.0 in February, according to The Conference Board.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna

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