Luntz Global Partners and the Policy and Taxation Group conducted a post-election, nationwide survey of 1,000 voters gauging their attitudes, priorities, and concerns about tax policy.
Below are the key findings from our research.
- Americans support repealing the Estate Tax. Over half of all voters – 52% – support eliminating the estate tax entirely when asked directly if the tax should be kept or eliminated. Only 30% oppose elimination, with the remaining 18% neutral or undecided. By party, it’s an overwhelming winner with GOP voters at 72%. That’s intuitive, but what policymakers need to note is that swing voters support it 51% to 32% (18% neutral/undecided), and even Democrats have a net +6 approval of outright repeal at 44% to 38%.
- It’s about more than Estate Tax. Nearly half, 47%, support reducing or amending the Gift Tax, even if it means less government revenue is collected. But, once they’re given specific reform options, repeal (35%) is the most popular choice, while leaving it as it is today (15%) is deeply unpopular.
- The 80% Generation-Skipping Tax continues the trend. By nearly identical numbers, nearly half of Americans support repealing the Generation-Skipping tax entirely, while fewer than 1 in 5 support keeping it intact. Their reason? Americans do not want to see Washington eliminate the estate tax in name only, while collecting the revenue by other means like the Gift and Generation-Skipping taxes.
- Americans see the inherent problem with treating death as an opportunity to tax grieving families. Three-quarters of Americans – including 63% of Democrats, 78% of independents, and 83% of Republicans – agreed,
“As a matter of principle, death should not be a taxable event. It is wrong for Washington to take hard earned money that has already been taxed and tax it yet again at death.”
The combination of a double-taxation and treating death as an opportunity to collect more government revenue is a position few, if any, Americans will choose to support. They believe repeal is simpler and it is fairer.
- What they want LEAST: keeping the Estate Tax at the current rate and policy. We gave American’s three policy options: “eliminate the estate tax entirely” (38% of All Voters chose this, along with 24% of Democrats, 36% of Swing Voters, and 57% of Republicans), “reduce it to 20%” (39% of All voters chose this, 41% of Democrats, 41% of Swing Voters, and 31% of Republicans), and “keep it at 40%” (just 23% of all voters, 35% of Democrats, 23% of swing voters, and 13% of Republicans).
To synthesize that data: fully 77% of Americans support a reduction or repeal of the Estate Tax, fewer than one in four (23%) support current law.