Tax day is here: Americans still largely unaware of tax reform benefits

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Federal income tax day is here, marking the final Tax Day under America’s old tax system. With the new system in effect starting the 2018 tax season, a new survey reveals significant misunderstandings about the newly passed income tax reforms, including whether it will be simpler and will save middle-income Americans money.

Conducted by the James Madison Institute (JMI), a free-market think tank dedicated to the principles of economic freedom and limited government, the survey found states with more complex tax codes have higher preparation and filing costs for individuals and higher administration costs for state governments.

“Predictably, the survey found Americans evenly split between feeling stressed, annoyed, or relieved about their taxes. But many of those surveyed see no relief in sight, despite the benefits in store next year,” stated the results. “Although the tax reforms will substantially simplify income tax filings and will return an estimated $1,000 in additional tax payments to the average middle-income American, many taxpayers – including conservatives – aren’t convinced.

The JMI survey found Republicans and Democrats alike generally support the idea of a simplified income tax system. Specifically:

  • 56% of survey respondents support efforts to simplify the federal income tax code to the point where the return could fit on a postcard (59% of Republicans and 54% of Democrats).
  • 71% of those surveyed find the current tax code to be complicated, with only 15% finding it simple and the remaining 14% unsure.

“Two central features of the federal tax plan include a lower burden on middle-income households and a simpler process – yet few Americans are aware of these improvements,” said Dr. Robert McClure, JMI’s President and CEO. “The survey findings show that many Americans assume their taxes will become more burdensome and more complicated. Yet while the federal government has simplified the tax code, 6 in 10 Americans live in states with their own complicated state income tax codes. Such complexity comes at a price – for families and states alike.”

The survey of 1,343 American adults was conducted April 3-8, 2018, via SurveyMonkey Audience, with respondents representative of American households in terms of political ideology, age, region, and income distribution.

Noting that approximately one-third of Americans feel “stressed” about Tax Day, one-third feel “annoyed,” and one-third feel “relieved,” McClure added: “We’re hopeful the number of Americans who can say they feel relieved will increase in the years ahead as they learn more about the benefits of tax reform and the state and federal governments become more dedicated to simplifying their respective tax codes.”

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