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Tax survey finds Australians would pay more for health, education and do not feel overtaxed

For the first time in years, Australians do not feel overtaxed.

The latest Per Capita Tax Survey finds more people believe they pay the right amount of tax than believe they pay too much, the first such finding in three years.

The proportion who believe they pay ''about the right amount'' jumped 18 percentage points to 53 per cent in February. The proportion who believe they pay too much fell 17 points to 33 per cent.

Per Capita executive director David Hetherington said there had been a ''marked turnaround'' in its fourth annual surveys, the only regular survey of public attitudes to tax and government spending.

''Between 2010 and late 2012, our views of the tax system became steadily less generous,'' he said. ''We felt increasingly we were paying too much tax and our support for public spending, while high, was falling.

''These sentiments have now reversed. Rather than saying they pay too much, Australians now claim they are paying about the right amount, and their support for higher public spending has risen.''

Mr Hetherington said said the change appeared to be driven by a retreat from alarmist rhetoric about the carbon and mining taxes, the absence of expected economic pain arising from those taxes and an acceptance that the wind down of the mining boom meant Australians could no longer expect tax cuts without sacrificing services.

Conducted five months after the election but before the Commission of Audit report, the survey finds a majority want more spending on health and education (86 per cent and 77 per cent). Sizeable minorities want more spending on social security (43 per cent), defence (28 per cent) and foreign aid (14 per cent).

More than half of those surveyed said they were prepared to pay higher taxes to get more spending on health. Slightly less than half said they would pay more tax to get more spending on education.

Offered the option of paying for more funding of public schools by cutting grants to non-government schools, 52 per cent said yes. About one third opted to cut other government spending, and only 4 per cent opted to pay more tax.

Almost three quarters of those surveyed believe high income earners pay little tax, up 17 percentage points from the previous survey.

An astonishing 60 per cent of those on more than $150,000 a year said high earners paid little tax. The proportion almost doubled from the previous survey, when only 36 per cent of high earners wanted high earners to pay more tax.

Twitter: @1petermartin

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