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The Nation

April 14, 2011

Poll: Are your taxes fair? Most say yes

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

Jim Martel, an electrician from Weymouth, Mass., said his tax bill is already unfair, but he would be willing to pay more if he thought the money would be spent wisely. He's not optimistic.

"If I thought people in office had the right thing in mind and they were doing the right thing with the money instead of blowing it and wasting it and funding these stupid projects that are totally ridiculous, I wouldn't have a problem with it," Martel said. "But they don't, so that's what bothers me."

Monday is the filing deadline for federal tax returns — three days later than usual because a local holiday is being observed in the nation's capital on Friday, the traditional deadline.

Federal tax receipts are projected to hit their lowest level in 60 years when measured as a share of the overall economy. Tax receipts dipped during the recession and have stayed low in part because Congress has extended Bush-era tax cuts at every income level, leaving federal rates unchanged for much of the past decade.

Residents in many states, however, have faced higher taxes because — unlike the federal government — states, school districts and municipalities must balance their budgets each year.

The share of the public believing their tax bills were fair was nearly identical to an AP poll taken in 2007, even though fewer people than in the past said they expect to get refunds this year. Fifty-one percent of those polled said they expected refunds this year, down from 57 percent in 2009 and 66 percent in 2007.

Many people who don't expect refunds could be in for a pleasant surprise.

Through March 25, about 87 percent of the individual returns processed by the Internal Revenue Service qualified for refunds. That's about the same rate through the same period as last year.

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