For the first time in years, we don't feel overtaxed.
The latest Per Capita tax survey shows more Australians believe they pay the right amount of tax than believe they pay too much, the first such finding in three years.
The proportion who believe they pay “about the right amount” jumped 18 percentage points to 53 per cent in February 2014. The proportion who believe they pay too much fell 17 points to 33 per cent.
The executive director of the Per Capita think tank David Hetherington said there had been a “marked turnaround”. In the fourth of its annual surveys, the only regular survey of public attitudes to tax and government spending.
“Between 2010 and late 2012, our views of the tax system became steadily less generous,” he said.
“We felt increasingly we were paying too much tax and our support for public spending, while high, was falling."
“These sentiments have now reversed. Rather than saying they pay too much, Australians now claim they are paying about the right amount, and their support for higher public spending has risen.”
Mr Hetherington said the change appeared to be driven by a retreat from alarmist rhetoric around the carbon and mining taxes, the absence of the expected major economic pain arising from those taxes and an acceptance that the wind down of the mining boom meant Australians could no longer expect tax cuts without sacrificing services.
Conducted five months after the election but before the Commission of Audit report, the survey finds a majority of Australians want more spending on health and education (86 per cent and 77 per cent). Sizable minorities want more spending on social security (43 per cent), defence (28 per cent) and foreign aid (14 per cent).
More than half of those surveyed said they would be prepared to pay higher taxes to get more government spending on health. Slightly less than half said they would pay more tax to get more spending on education.
Offered the option of paying for more funding of public schools by cutting grants to non-government schools, 52 per cent said yes. About one third opted to cut other government spending, and only 4 per cent opted to pay more tax.
Almost three quarters of those surveyed believe high income earners pay little tax, up 17 percentage points from the previous survey.
An astonishing 60 per cent on high earners on more than $150,000 believed high earners paid little tax, a finding which, if taken literally, would mean they believed that they themselves should pay more tax.
The proportion has almost doubled from the last survey when only 36 per cent of high earners wanted high earners to pay more tax.