Americans Are Barely Paying Attention To A Massive International Scandal

The leak of the Panama Papers is garnering scant notice in the U.S.

The "Panama Papers" -- a trove of 11.5 million leaked documents on tax avoidance by a slew of powerful figures -- are top news internationally. Several world leaders have come in for heavy criticism, and one, Iceland's prime minister, resigned after details of his wife's ownership of an offshore firm were made public.

With few Americans caught up in the scandal, however, the revelations haven't made much of a splash in the U.S.

According to a new HuffPost/YouGov survey, just one-third of Americans say they've been following the Panama Papers "very closely" or even "fairly closely." Two-thirds aren't following the story closely at all, or weren't even aware of it.

Of those paying at least some attention, 89 percent say the accusations in the documents are probably true, and 71 percent consider the person who leaked the papers to be more of a hero than a criminal.

Even those who are following the story at least fairly closely aren't all that heavily invested. About one-third say they'd be outraged if the accusations are true, with 47 percent saying they'd merely be bothered and 10 percent that they wouldn't even be particularly bothered. Among all Americans, fewer than one-quarter say they'd be outraged.

Still, most don't feel that their country is exempt from similar problems. About three-quarters believe the level of political corruption in the U.S. is higher or about the same as it is in most countries. About 3 in 4 also want the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service to examine the documents for any evidence that Americans broke the law. (The DOJ announced Monday that it's launching a probe.)

A 51-percent majority of Americans also say that tax avoidance, even if it adheres to the law, is unacceptable behavior. Opinions, though, divide significantly across income brackets. While just about one-quarter in households making under $50,000 a year think tax avoidance is acceptable, 52 percent of those making $100,000 or more see it as just fine.

Wealthier Americans are also more likely to consider tax avoidance themselves. One-third making $100,000 or more say that if they had the opportunity to avoid taxes with little chance of it being discovered, they probably would take part. Just 19 percent in the lowest income group say they'd consider such a scheme. 

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted April 5-7 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls.You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.



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