Public Opinion Poll

Poll Finds 70 Percent of Californians Believe State and Local Taxes Are Too High

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Seventy percent of Californians believe they are paying too much in state and local taxes, compared with 4 percent who say they are paying less than they should, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll released February 2.

The pollster asked: “When you combine all of the taxes you pay to state and local governments, do you feel that you pay much more than you should, somewhat more than you should, about the right amount, or less than you should?” The responses: 31 percent “much more,” 39 percent “somewhat more,” 26 percent “about the right amount,” 4 percent “less than you should,” and 1 percent “don’t know.”

Of the 1,539 respondents, 47 percent are registered Democrats, 24 percent are Republicans, 27 percent decline to state a party preference, and 2 percent are registered with another party.

The survey also revealed that 91 percent of Californians think the state government wastes tax dollars, and 95 percent believe the federal government wastes their tax money. Asked if people in the government “waste a lot of the money we pay in taxes, waste some of it, or don’t waste very much of it,” the responses for the state level were 45 percent “a lot,” 46 percent “some,” 8 percent “don’t waste very much,” and 1 percent “don’t know.” The responses for the federal level were 55 percent, 40 percent, 3 percent, and 2 percent, respectively.

Other findings from the poll:

  • “Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the way that Gavin Newsom is handling the issue of the state budget and taxes?”: 52 percent “approve,” 46 percent “disapprove,” 2 percent “don’t know.”
  • “Overall, how fair do you think our present state and local tax system is – would you say it is very fair, moderately fair, not too fair, or not at all fair?”: 3 percent “very fair,” 39 percent “somewhat fair,” 38 percent “not too fair,” 19 percent not at all fair, 1 percent “don’t know.”
  • “Where do you think California currently ranks in state and local tax burden per capita? Compared to other states, is California’s tax burden per capita near the top, above average, average, below average, or near the bottom?”: 42 percent “near the top,” 29 percent “above average,” 19 percent “average,” 5 percent “below average,” 3 percent “near the bottom,” 2 percent “don’t know.”
  • “In general, which of the following statements do you agree with more – ‘I’d rather pay higher taxes and have a state government that provides more services,’ or ‘I’d rather pay lower taxes and have a state government that provides fewer services?’”: 45 percent “high taxes and more services,” 52 percent “lower taxes and fewer services,” 2 percent “don’t know.” (CalTax: As the respondents’ acknowledgment of the problem of government waste indicates, higher taxes do not necessarily translate to more services – and government efficiency could result in the most desirable combination of lower taxes and more services.)
  • “Has the cost of gasoline or other transportation caused any financial hardship for you or your household?”: 21 percent “yes, caused severe hardship”; 33 percent “yes, caused moderate hardship”; 46 percent “no, has not caused hardship.”

The poll was conducted from January 13 through January 20 in English and Spanish. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.