Apr 13, 2015 1:24 pm

The biggest U.S. tax breaks

Tax expendituresWith just a few days to go until the April 15 tax filing deadline, we’re sure some Americans are still sweating over their 1040s, Schedule A’s and self-employment tax worksheets. Here’s something for taxpayers to consider: the more than $1.3 trillion worth of tax breaks that are allowed under the U.S. tax code.

That’s the total estimated impact for fiscal year 2015 of the more than 200 “tax expenditures” – government lingo for tax breaks – that come in the form of exemptions, deductions, credits and other special breaks, according to an annual staff report from the Joint Committee on Taxation. Even that $1.3 trillion figure is an understatement, as the report only gives specifics for a break if it’s estimated to cost the government $50 million or more per year. Dozens of provisions in the tax code fall below that threshold. Read More

Topics: Economic Policy, Taxes

Apr 13, 2015 12:26 pm

Hillary Clinton’s nomination would end long Cabinet drought

No Cabinet Member Has Been Nominated for President Since 1928

Hillary Clinton’s long-awaited announcement that she is indeed running for president represents more than just the possibility that she could become the first woman president, or even the first former first lady to move back into the White House by general election. Should Clinton win the Democratic nomination next year, she’d be the first former Cabinet secretary in 88 years to become a major party’s official choice for president.

Read More

Topics: 2016 Election

Apr 10, 2015 3:33 pm

A Clinton candidacy: Voters’ early impressions

Reports that Hillary Clinton will launch her presidential campaign April 12 raise inevitable questions: Will she be a stronger candidate now than she was in 2008? And which factors may help – or hurt – the former secretary of state in a second run for the White House?

FT_15.04.10_hillarySupportChartA poll last week by the Pew Research Center found that 59% of Democratic voters said there was a “good chance” they would vote for Clinton. That is higher than the 52% of Democrats who said there was a good chance they would back Clinton at a comparable point in 2007.

The bigger change, by far, is the state of Clinton’s possible Democratic competition. In early 2007, a first-term senator named Barack Obama was already running for president – and 32% of Democrats saw a good chance of supporting him. By June of that year, Clinton’s advantage on the “good chance” measure had narrowed to 10 points over Obama and former Vice President Al Gore (44%, versus 34% for each). Read More

Topics: 2016 Election, Gender, U.S. Political Figures, U.S. Political Parties

Apr 10, 2015 10:02 am

On social media, mom and dad are watching

Gone are the “Mom, get off the phone!” days when parents could try to surreptitiously listen in on their teenagers’ calls. Back in 2006, four-in-ten teens (39%) said they talked daily with their friends on a landline phone; by 2011, just 14% did.

On Facebook, Parents Are Friends with Their TeensBut that doesn’t mean parents aren’t monitoring their teenagers’ behaviors in other ways. With so much of a teenager’s social activities now happening online, parents have had to adapt. Today, 60% of parents say they’ve checked their teenagers’ profile on a social networking site, including roughly similar shares of moms (62%) and dads (58%), according to new Pew Research Center data.

Parents are especially aware of their teens’ behavior on Facebook, the largest social media platform. Among Facebook users, the vast majority of parents (83%) say they’re “Facebook friends” with their teenager, according to a new survey conducted during the fall of 2014 and winter 2015. (For more on teens’ use of Facebook, see our latest report.) Read More

Topics: Internet Activities, Social Media, Teens and Technology

Apr 10, 2015 7:00 am

5 facts on how Americans view taxes

Benjamin Franklin popularized the sentiment that nothing is certain “except death and taxes.” But the public isn’t too keen on the current federal tax system, with 59% saying there is so much wrong that Congress should completely change it (38% say it works pretty well and needs only minor changes).

As April 15 rolls around yet again, here are five facts about Americans’ views of taxes.

1Americans have several complaints about the federal tax system, most notably the impression that some corporations and wealthy people don’t pay their fair share. Almost two-thirds (64%) say they are bothered a lot by the feeling that some corporations aren’t paying what’s fair in federal taxes, and 61% say the same about some wealthy people. Just 20% say they are bothered a lot by the feeling that some poor people don’t pay their fair share. A greater share – 44% – say the complexity of the tax system bothers them a lot. Democrats are more likely to complain about corporations and the wealthy not paying their share, while Republicans register more irritation with the system’s complexity, the amount they pay, and some poor people not paying their fair share. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Taxes

Apr 9, 2015 11:58 am

6 key findings about black immigration to the U.S.

Black immigrants make up a small but growing segment of the U.S. black population. Although the United States has long had a sizable black population as a legacy of slavery, voluntary black immigration to the U.S. is a relatively new development and is projected to grow in the coming decades. A new Pew Research Center report examines this trend and provides a statistical portrait of the nation’s black immigrant population.

Here are six key findings about the foreign-born black population in the U.S.

Caribbean Is Top Birth Region; African Immigration Soared Since 20001The black immigrant population has more than quadrupled since 1980. Only around 800,000 blacks were foreign-born in that year, and by 2013 the number had climbed to 3.8 million, according to a Pew Research analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Immigrants are also making up a larger share of the overall black population – 8.7% of blacks were foreign-born in 2013, a share that is projected to almost double by 2060.

Read More

Topics: African Americans, Immigration, Population Trends, Race and Ethnicity

Apr 9, 2015 7:00 am

How Americans and Japanese see each other

Public views of other nationalities are often rooted in stereotypes. These perceived characteristics may or may not be fair or accurate. But they capture a public perception that may help explain national attitudes on a range of other topics.

As part of our recent survey of the relationship of Japanese and Americans, we asked the publics in both countries if they associated particular words with people in the other country.

To Americans, the Japanese are generally viewed in a positive light: Words like “hardworking,” “inventive” and “honest” are what American use to describe them. In fact, more than nine-in-ten Americans say they associate “hardworking” with the Japanese.  Read More

Topics: Asia and the Pacific, Country Image, Social Values

Apr 8, 2015 10:00 am

Q/A: How we projected the future of world religions

A major new Pew Research Center study projects the changing size and distribution of religious groups around the world in the coming decades. (Some of the key findings can be seen here.) The study uses thousands of sources of data from countries around the world on fertility, age composition and other demographic factors to predict the globe’s religious demography out to 2050.

Conrad Hackett

Fact Tank sat down with Conrad Hackett, the report’s primary researcher, to discuss how he and his team put the report together and why it is different from past efforts to predict religious change.

What was your main goal in undertaking this project?

Years ago, we realized that no one was using the best tools of social science to estimate the current and future size of global religious populations. We saw this as an area where Pew Research could break new ground, so we hatched a plan to measure the religious demographics of every country. Read More

Topics: Demographics, Population Projections, Religious Affiliation, Research Methods

Apr 8, 2015 7:00 am

Reflecting a racial shift, 78 counties turned majority-minority since 2000

Where Minorities Became the Majority Between 2000 and 2013

In the United States as a whole, the white share of the population is declining as Hispanic, Asian and black populations grow. But the shift to a more diverse nation is happening more quickly in some places than in others. Read More

Category: Sortable Table

Topics: Demographics, Population Trends, Race and Ethnicity, U.S. Census

Apr 7, 2015 11:03 am

Obama to meet Latin American leaders amid positive views of U.S. in the region

When President Obama joins 34 other heads of state from North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean this week in Panama City for the seventh Summit of the Americas, he’ll be doing so at a time when the United States’ image in the region is largely positive.

The year’s agenda will include discussion of improved cooperation between Western hemisphere nations, a topic epitomized by the first-ever invitation for Cuba to participate in the meeting and the U.S. restoring diplomatic ties with the island. The move garnered praise from leaders throughout Latin America.

Most in Latin America Like U.S.A 2014 Pew Research Center survey of 43 countries around the world showed that a median of 65% of people in Latin America had a positive view of the U.S. While not quite as positive as attitudes toward America in Africa (74%), this level of approval is on par with views in Europe (66%) and Asia (66%) and much higher than in the Middle East (30%). The survey was conducted last spring before Obama’s diplomatic opening to Cuba.

Read More

Topics: Foreign Affairs and Policy, Latin America