We polled full-time employed Americans and asked them, "Last year, did you pay taxes to the federal government, get a refund or both?"
An amazing 40 percent of respondents said they received a refund only. They didn't say they paid taxes and then received a refund. They only said that they received a refund.
Nearly half the country believes that they don't pay taxes to the federal government. They probably know they pay sales and other taxes, such as tolls. But because of our system of payroll withholdings, these folks never notice that on their pay stubs, it says clearly that they are taking home a lot less money than they are being paid by their employers.
I'm a little blown away by that. And it's not like I walk around thinking: "Gee, the overwhelming percentage of Americans are brilliant. You can't throw fastballs past them."
UPDATE: On second thought, I'm wondering if we're dealing with semantics. If folks know they paid taxes via withholding, but just have a mindset where that's assumed. As if you were talking to a friend who asked "You pay your taxes yet?"
"Nah," you'd respond. "I got a refund this year."
No one would answer: "All year long, baby. But I overpaid, so the government took my money by force of law, held onto it, returned a pittance at the end of the year and kept the extra interest."
Well, I might respond that way. But I have authority issues.