Nearly two-thirds of Americans support imposing a minimum tax rate of 30 percent on those who earn $1 million or more a year, according to Reuters/Ipsos poll results released on Tuesday.
The poll showed that 64 percent of those surveyed favored a "Buffett tax" as proposed by the Obama administration and named for multibillionaire investor Warren Buffett, who backs it.
The Sage of Omaha, as Buffett is sometimes known, has been a vocal advocate of higher taxes on the wealthy. Obama called for the new tax in his State of the Union speech in January.
Legislation has been filed by Democrats in Congress to enact the tax into law, but it was widely expected to languish this year with the U.S. House of Representatives under the control of Republicans who are opposed to tax increases of any kind.
The poll said that support for the Buffett tax was strongest among Democrats, at 76 percent, but also significant among Republicans, with 49 percent of them viewing it favorably.
"There is a tolerance with the American public for conversations about tax increases or changing the tax code in some way," Ipsos research director Chris Jackson said.
In a related issue, the poll said that 57 percent of Americans would support eliminating the tax deduction for mortgage interest if it resulted in a lower overall tax rate.
Once again, Democrats were more supportive, at 63 percent, while Republicans were less so, with 52 percent in support.
"People talk about taxes as if you even mention it, you're going to get run out of town on a rail, but these polling numbers indicate that Americans are actually interested in some taxes, particularly ones they think will not affect them."
The U.S. government's budget deficit is expected to swell to $1.17 trillion in the 2012 fiscal year ending in September, with some landmark decisions on tax and spending policy awaiting Congress after the November elections.
The U.S. tax code has not been overhauled in 25 years. Since then it has become riddled with deductions, exemptions and other special provisions - such as the mortgage interest deduction - that deprive the government of more than $1 trillion a year.
Most budget experts agree that addressing the deficit situation will require cuts in spending and tax changes.
The March 8-11 telephone poll surveyed 1,084 adults nationwide and has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points, Ipsos said.
(Reporting By Kevin Drawbaugh; Editing by Howard Goller and Paul Simao)