We continue today with our series of releases on our current poll. Last week was about same-sex marriage (here, and here) , the merger of Rowan University and Rutgers-Camden, and how Gov. Christie and Pres. Obama are doing in NJ. Today we take on attitudes toward Gov. Christie’s proposed 10% income tax cut. The governor is giving his budget address today, so it seems to make sense to see how NJ voters feel about his proposal. In a nutshell, a majority supports a 10% income tax cut, but most seem to have no real idea how much such a cut would save them, and the vast majority wants to see property taxes cut first if they had a choice.
We should point out that these releases all come from the same poll – that is, we were in the field calling people from Feb. 9 to Feb. 11. We asked a series of questions on many different topics, as we usually do. The result is that we release the different parts of the poll over time – usually no more than three weeks – in order to give time to digest it all, and to give us time to do the analysis and writing! So there is still more to come this week and next, including a look back at 40 years of taxes, how things are looking for the 2012 election in this state, and a fun release about New Year’s resolutions. So stay tuned!
Full text of the release follows. For a PDF of questions and tables, click here.
RUTGERS-EAGLETON POLL: MAJORITY OF NEW JERSEY VOTERS SUPPORT CHRISTIE INCOME TAX CUT
But most would prefer property tax cut first
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J – As Gov. Chris Christie prepares to give his annual budget address, a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll shows a majority of registered voters support his proposed 10 percent income tax cut. But even though 52 percent say they support the governor’s signature budget proposal, fully three-quarters would prefer to see a property tax cut come first.
Moreover, voters significantly overestimate how much money they would actually receive from an income tax cut. A New Jersey taxpayer making $50,000 would save a little less than $100 per year from a 10 percent income tax cut, and those making $100,000 would save about $275. Voters anticipate a median savings of nearly $750.
“People are eager for tax relief,” said poll Director David Redlawsk, a professor of political science at Rutgers University. “Yet for most New Jerseyans the burden they feel comes from property taxes, more than from income taxes. A majority would certainly take an income tax cut over nothing, but large numbers have no idea how much they would save from Christie’s proposal.”
While there are strong partisan differences in support for an income tax cut – 72 percent of Republicans want it, while only 38 percent of Democrats offer support – everyone agrees that a property tax cut is preferred. Nearly eight-in-ten Republicans and Democrats say cut property taxes first, and 73 percent of independents agree.
Results are from a poll of 914 registered voters conducted statewide among both landline and cell phone households from Feb. 9-11. The full sample has a margin of error of +/- 3.3 percentage points.
Income tax cut popular among Republicans, voters with higher incomes
Predictably, nearly three-quarters of Republicans favor the proposed income tax cut, with only 21 percent opposed. Independents support the proposal, 54 percent to 32 percent. Democrats statewide are dubious about this plan, with half opposed and only 38 percent in favor. These figures lead to an expected outcome: 71 percent of voters with positive feelings about Christie support an income tax cut. A majority (55 percent) who feel unfavorable toward Christie oppose his plan.
Household income makes little difference in support for the proposed tax cut: 58 percent who earn more than $150,000 annually and 53 percent who earn less favor the proposal. Gender also makes little difference: 54 percent of men and 50 percent of women say they favor the tax cut.
“While those at higher income benefit more in terms of dollars, that doesn’t seem to make much difference,” said Redlawsk. “Support for the proposed income tax cut remains consistent across all income levels.”
Christie’s income tax relief is less popular among the more educated; only 43 percent of voters with post-graduate education favor the proposal, while more than half of those with less education say they like the idea. Support for the income tax cut is slightly higher among whites (54 percent) than among blacks (49 percent). More retired voters (55 percent) favor the savings than full-time workers (52 percent) or part-timers (50 percent). Fewer than half of the unemployed support the proposed tax cut.
Voters overestimate value of income tax cut
Thirty-five percent of registered voters think a 10 percent tax cut would save them more than $500 per year, but reports suggest that a household would have to earn more than $150,000 in taxable income to save just over $500 in state taxes. Another 32 percent say they are unsure about their savings. Only 22 percent estimated their savings at $200 or less.
Support for the tax cut is greatly influenced by inaccurate perceptions of how much will be saved. Among the 31 percent who think they will save $750 per year or more, nearly two-thirds support the tax cut. Among those who expect to save less, support runs from 44 to 48 percent.
“Only 14 percent of voters report household incomes over $150,000,” noted Redlawsk. “These respondents can expect savings above $500 from the proposed cut. But more than twice as many say they expect to save that much. People really do not have a good sense of how much they pay in state income tax and what a 10 percent savings means. This leads them to overestimate their own gain, which may affect their support for the proposal.” -
Voters in households with lower incomes give the lowest estimate of their savings, though they still over estimate badly. About a quarter of those earning under $50,000 believe their tax savings would be more than $200, far higher than the $80 savings likely at $50,000 income. Moreover, 10 percent of those earning less than $50,000 and 15 percent of earners between $50,000 and $100,000 anticipate tax savings of more than $2,000.
“There is a great deal of misinformation about how much can be saved in state income taxes,” said Redlawsk. “Most voters appear to be guessing at best, and are guessing very high. One-third won’t even make a guess.”
Strong preference for property tax reduction
Although the governor’s proposed income tax cut is popular across the state, an overwhelming majority of voters (76 percent) would prefer a property tax reduction. Given a choice between the two taxes, Republicans, Democrats and independents all agree that property taxes should be reduced first. Voters’ opinions of the governor do not seem to affect preference for property tax reduction. Those with a favorable opinion (80 percent) and an unfavorable opinion (74 percent) strongly prefer a property tax cut come first. Even eight-in-10 of the highest earning Garden Staters – who would benefit most from an income tax cut – prefer to see their property taxes cut before income taxes.
“Everyone likes lower taxes” said Redlawsk. “But property tax cuts are what New Jerseyans seem to want. While recent changes pushed by Gov. Christie have placed stronger caps on property tax increases, voters still want to see those taxes actually reduced. It’s one thing nearly everyone agrees on.”