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Politics

You own this tax bill, Republicans. Good luck.

Catherine Rampell on

Despite what Republican legislative priorities suggest, most Americans don't care all that much if their taxes go down. As Brookings Institution scholar Vanessa Williamson has shown, Americans don't exactly love paying taxes, but they regard doing so as their civic duty. To the extent they care about the system, they're primarily mad that others are shirking this duty.

The thing that bothers Americans most about the tax system is "the feeling that some corporations don't pay their fair share," according to a recent Pew Research Center poll. This was followed by the feeling that "some wealthy people are not paying their fair share." Next, tax-code complexity.

Then, in fourth place, was the amount they personally pay in taxes.

Americans know the Trump tax bill gives the biggest windfall to the rich and corporations. That's probably why they hate it so much. This hatred will likely grow as clever accountants devise new ways to make the windfall even bigger, thanks to as-yet-undiscovered glitches and drafting errors throughout this hastily written bill.

"Newspapers are going to be full of stories about people creatively minimizing their taxes," says tax historian Joseph Thorndike.

A fall in other people's taxes, he says, is what Americans care about -- and what, over the coming months, they'll be looking for.

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Catherine Rampell's email address is crampell@washpost.com. Follow her on Twitter, @crampell.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

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Video: Opinion | Washington Post Opinion writers Ruth Marcus, Jo-Ann Armao, Quinta Jurecic and Molly Roberts hash out the winners and losers of the Republicans tax plan in this highlight from the weekly discussion show, "It's Only Thursday." (The Washington Post)(The Washington Post)

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