A national poll was conducted from December 18-20, 2016, among a sample of 5,500 registered voters. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of registered voters based on race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus one percentage point. Below is a summary of findings:

Tax policy, government spending, health care and trade were all central themes to 2016’s political discourse. Now, campaign-trail policy proposals are set to be formally considered as a new President and Congress are sworn into office. Within the context of federal tax reform, a “blueprint” currently being considered in Congress calls for significantly lowering the corporate tax, consolidating and lowering individual rates for individuals and small businesses, allowing for immediate expensing of capital investments, and more. 

Also included in the “blueprint” is what is called a ‘Border Adjustment Tax’ (BAT), which places a tax on businesses like retailers that import foreign goods to the United States to sell to consumers, while also providing tax breaks for companies that export U.S. goods to foreign countries. Revenues raised from a BAT would be used to offset the costs of reducing corporate tax rates and other revenue implications of the Congressional plan. The BAT would most directly impact industries like retailers of personal goods, and subsequently U.S. consumers, as the potentially significant costs of the BAT would most likely be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices for everyday goods and services.

Data shows about a quarter to a third of the American electorate is generally unsure or knows little about the impacts (positive or negative) or the costs of a BAT, but voters are sure of several related issues:

  • Voters are unwilling to pay more for everyday goods produced in other countries as a result of changes in U.S. tax policy
  • Voters believe that any tax rate reductions for corporations should be paid for through a decrease in government spending, not an increase in taxes or costs on consumers, individuals or families
  • Voters prioritize lowering tax rates for individuals and small businesses far more importantly than lowering tax rates for corporations
  • Voters would view their Member of Congress as putting the interests of corporations over the individuals and families they represent, if they support a law that causes consumer prices to rise
  • Voters would consider implementation of a BAT a broken campaign promise