New poll shows bipartisan, across-the-board, dislike of Internet sales tax

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WASHINGTON (Sept. 12, 2013) – A new national comprehensive survey commissioned by National Taxpayers Union and the R Street Institute finds that Americans overwhelmingly oppose new legislation, like the Marketplace Fairness Act, that lets states force tax collection obligations on Internet purchases made from businesses outside their borders.

The poll, conducted by the well-respected firm Mercury, surveyed 1,000 likely voters and broadly confirmed results of a separate Gallup survey taken a month earlier.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents in both of those polls opposed changes to Internet sales tax policies like those provided in the Marketplace Fairness Act. Only 35 percent of those Mercury polled favor a new federal Internet sales tax scheme.

A further examination of different political and demographic groups revealed universal concern about MFA and Internet sales taxes:

  • Self-identified Republicans and conservatives disliked MFA by 2 to 1 margins.
  • Independents opposed MFA by a 56 percent to 37 percent margin, Democrats by a 48-43 percent margin, and split ticket voters by a 58-36 percent margin.
  • When respondents were informed “the proposed legislation would allow tax enforcement agents from one state to collect taxes from online retailers based in a different state,” and that it would entail new tax collection obligations for businesses, the margins against it swung to 70 percent and 69 percent, respectively.
  • When confronted with the best arguments in favor of the legislation and against it, more than 60 percent of respondents supported the anti-MFA arguments.

In a separate sample of 700 likely Republican primary voters, the poll asked respondents to choose which candidate they would vote for: A, who supported an MFA-type sales-tax collection approach or B, who worked against tax increases on the Internet.

By a whopping 70 percent to 16 percent proportion, Candidate B won – thus revealing that supporting the MFA is a dangerous vulnerability for Republicans facing a GOP primary.

“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. “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,” said R Street Institute’s Andrew Moylan. “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?”

A presentation of the NTU/R Street poll results is available online at: http://www.rstreet.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Internet-Sales-Tax-Is-Congress-Listening.pdf

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