Poll shows bipartisan opposition to Internet sales tax

The push in Congress for the Internet sales tax may have died down some since the measure cleared the Senate back in May, but a new poll shows bipartisan opposition to the proposed measure currently stalled in the House.

The poll, commissioned by the R Street Institute and the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), found that 57% of likely voters oppose the Internet sales tax, known in Congress as the “Marketplace Fairness Act.” Only 35% support the measure. Those numbers are mostly inline with a Gallup poll released on the issue in June.

Opponents of the legislation, which is being pushed by brick-and-mortar retailers and revenue hungry state governments, point out that the tax isn’t fair at all to online retailers. They note that the measure will impose an enormous regulatory burden on small businesses, making them a tax collector for more than 9,600 jurisdictions, and lead to higher prices for consumers.

The R Street/NTU survey also shows that nearly 66% of Republicans, 56% of independents and a plurality of Democrats oppose the Internet sales tax. Among ideologies, 65% of conservatives and 55% of moderates oppose the measure. A plurality of liberal also opposed the measure, at 47/45, though that was in the polls margin of error.

When respondents were presented with an example of how the Internet sales tax would work, the number of those against the measure soared to 70%. Opposition among party and ideological lines soared significantly.

“The overwhelming results of our survey send an unmistakable message: nobody likes this federal Internet sales tax scheme,” said NTU Executive Vice President Pete Sepp in a statement. “Not to be lost in these intriguing results is the opportunity for fiscal conservatives to reach out to swing groups like young voters, women, and independents.”

“The American people have made themselves perfectly clear: they do not want Congress to give states the ability to tax across their borders via the Internet,” added Andrew Moylan, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute. “This survey should serve as a cautionary tale to anyone who is considering supporting the disastrous online sales tax. The only question is, will Congress listen?”

The Internet sales tax hasn’t had any movement in the House, though that could change. In an interview with United Liberty back in July, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), who has led the charge against the measure in the lower chamber, said that House leadership has suggested that the Internet sales tax wouldn’t come to the floor for a vote, but explained that those supportive of the measure will continue to apply pressure.

“I implored our leadership not to let it come to a vote. They kind of intimated to me that they didn’t want it to come to a vote either,” said Massie. “But here again, I don’t think they want to come out and say this will never come to a vote because you have people donating to members of Congress with the implied and explicit understanding that at some point there’s a quid pro quo and they’re gonna get a vote on this, and they’re gonna get a new tax that’s gonna punish [their] competition.”


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