The issue seemed to be dead going into 2014, but some House Republicans — those who seem determined to find a way to raise taxes — are planning to hold hearings on the Internet sales tax early this year:
House Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte plans to hold a hearing in the first half of the year to explore online sales tax legislation, advocates say.
Proponents of an Internet sales tax bill, such as major retailers, are holding out hope for action in the House in 2014 despite the opposition of many conservatives and the skeptical stance of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
Supporters and opponents of online sales tax proposals are focusing their lobbying energy on Goodlatte (R-Va.), who has released a set of seven principles that an online sales tax bill would have to meet in order to be considered by his committee.
“House Judiciary has a busy schedule,” but Goodlatte has plans to hold a hearing on Internet sales taxes in the first half of the year, according to Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice, which represents Facebook, Yahoo and online sales tax critic eBay.
High-powered lobbyists representing the interests of large brick-and-mortar retailers were able to ram the Internet sales tax through the Senate last May through the Orwellian-sounding Marketplace Fairness Act.
The Senate version of the Internet sales tax would have imposed enormous regulatory burdens on small businesses, making them tax collectors for more than 9,600 jurisdictions. The measure would also lead to higher prices for consumers.
The House has been a different story, at least to this point. There is still a large contingent of conservatives in the lower chamber who will stick to their limited government views.
Opposition to the proposal is also good politics, even if it frustrates lobbyists looking to crush their clients’ competition and states starving for more tax revenue.
The R Street Institute and National Taxpayers Union released a poll in September showing that 57 percent of likely voters oppose the Internet sales tax. Opposition soared to 70 percent when the merits of the proposal were explained. Similarly, a Gallup poll back in June found that 57 percent of American adults oppose taxing online sales. Both polls found strong opposition from young voters, moderates and independents.
House Republicans who are pushing this issue should listen to what Americans are saying outside the “Beltway bubble.” Instead of entertaining the idea of an Internet sales tax, they should be making opposition to it part of their platform in the 2014 mid-term election.