| November 7, 2011

Oklahoma Voters: Reduce the Income Tax, Don’t Raise Other Taxes

Oklahoma’s Task Force for the Study of Tax Credits and Economic Incentives has been doing some important work lately, and it’s looking more and more likely that some tax credits will be eliminated.

OCPA recently commissioned SoonerPoll, a highly respected survey firm, to conduct a statewide survey of 587 likely Oklahoma voters. The survey was conducted July 25 through August 11, 2011. The margin of error is ± 4.04 percent. Here’s one of the questions: “There has been a lot of talk these days about the hundreds of tax credits and other tax breaks in the Oklahoma tax code. It’s possible that some of these tax breaks will be eliminated in the years ahead. If so, some people say the additional revenues should be used to fund state-government services. Other people say the additional revenues should be used to reduce the Oklahoma income tax rate. Which view comes closer to your own?”

  • Fund state-government services... 31%
  • Reduce the Oklahoma income tax... 63%
  • Don’t Know/Refused... 6%

It’s not just conservatives and Republicans who want to reduce the tax. Even Democrats (by a margin of 55% to 37%) favor tax cuts over more government spending.

Among Oklahoma voters with household income under $25,000, the margin is 61% to 31% in favor of tax cuts. One would hope our friends on the Left would take note of that result.

Here’s another question. “Gov. Mary Fallin recently said one of her long-term goals is to eliminate the Oklahoma income tax, which is the largest source of state revenue. Some people say this can be done by restructuring the tax system. They say we could increase property taxes or other taxes to make up for the lost income-tax revenue. Other people say this can be done without raising other taxes. They say that normal growth revenue, coupled with reductions in state spending, will enable us to phase out the income tax over a 7-year period. If Oklahoma is going to eliminate the income tax, which option would you prefer?”

  • Restructuring the tax system to raise other taxes... 22%
  • Phase out without raising other taxes... 65%
  • Neutral/No opinion... 12%
  • Don’t know/Refused... 1%

Even those voters describing themselves as “very liberal” prefer (by a margin of 44% to 31%) not to raise other taxes. Among the “somewhat liberal,” the margin is 55% to 24%. Among Democrats, it’s 60% to 23%. Among Oklahoma voters with household income under $25,000, it’s 68% to 21%.

If one didn’t know better, one could almost get the idea that Oklahomans are okay with the idea of smaller government. Which brings us to the next question: “Which of the following statements do you agree with more: ‘I’d rather pay higher taxes to support a larger state government that provides more services’ or ‘I’d rather pay lower taxes and have a smaller state government that provides fewer services.’”

  • Higher taxes/larger government/more services... 28%
  • Lower taxes/smaller government/fewer services... 59%
  • Neutral... 11%
  • Don’t know/Refused... 3%

And why would voters want a smaller government? Another question may provide a clue. “Do you think that Oklahoma’s state government wastes a lot of money we pay in taxes, wastes some of it, or doesn’t waste very much of it?”

  • Wastes a lot... 51%
  • Wastes some... 36%
  • Doesn’t waste very much... 8%
  • Neutral/No opinion... 2%
  • Don’t know/Refused... 3%

Numbers may not add to 100 due to rounding.

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