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(L-R) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Orrin Hatch, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn introduce the Republican tax reform plan at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

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By Ginger Gibson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans are more likely to believe the wealthy will benefit most from the tax reform currently being pushed in the U.S. Congress by Republicans who insist their goal is to help the middle class, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Thursday.

The poll found 32 percent of Americans think the wealthy will benefit most, compared to 14 percent who think all Americans will benefit and 14 percent who think large U.S. corporations will benefit most.

Congress is working to try to enact the most sweeping overhaul of the tax code since the 1980s that would lower taxes for millions of individual tax payers and slash the rate paid by corporations. The proposal would also eliminate most individual tax deductions, a move that could result in some taxpayers seeing an increase in their total bill to the government while others see a decrease.

Despite an insistence by Republicans that their goal is help the middle class, only 8 percent of Americans think that demographic will benefit the most, the poll, which was conducted Nov. 3-8, found.

Republicans and Democrats are divided on who they think tax reform would help the most. Among Republicans, 26 percent think all Americans will benefit, followed by 16 percent who think the wealthy will benefit most, the poll found.

But among Democrats, 46 percent think that wealthy will benefit most, with only 7 percent thinking all Americans will benefit and 17 percent who think corporations will benefit.

And while those polled did not think that the middle class will benefit most, an overwhelming majority thought that they should.

The poll found 79 percent think its more important to cut taxes for the middle class than for corporations, and 76 percent think its more important to cut taxes for the poor than for corporations.

However, 76 percent said it was more important to cut taxes for corporations than it was to cut taxes for the wealthy.

When it comes to specific changes, the poll found that 46 percent of Americans oppose limiting the mortgage interest deduction, compared to 35 percent who support the change.

The strongest opposition came to the Republican proposal to eliminate deductions for medical expenses, with 54 percent saying they are against the change and 32 percent saying they support it.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted in early November online in English throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,608 adults and has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 3 percentage points.

(Reporting by Ginger Gibson and Chris Kahn.)

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