With reports building that there might be an attempt to attach misguided Internet sales-tax legislation to a budget deal or to an extension of the commonsense ban on Internet-access taxes, we thought it was time to highlight polling that shows deep and broad opposition to such legislation.
The R Street Institute and the National Taxpayers Union conducted several rounds of polls that investigated public attitudes to Internet sales-tax proposals. In a national poll of 1,000 likely voters conducted by the firm Mercury, the verdict was clear. By a 22-point margin (57 percent to 35 percent), respondents opposed Internet sales-tax proposals that were along the lines of the Marketplace Fairness Act and the new Remote Transactions Parity Act. Self-identified Republicans disliked the schemes by a 38-point margin (65 percent to 27 percent); independents, by a 20-point margin (56 percent to 36 percent); and even self-identified Democrats by a five-point margin (48 percent to 43 percent).
In subsequent state polling – also conducted by Mercury – in 20 states across the country, the responses were equally stark. In a hypothetical matchup of one candidate who supports an Internet sales tax and another who opposes such a scheme, respondents on average favored the candidate who opposes the law by a 25-point margin (53 percent to 28 percent). The states that registered strongest opposition to such a bill (Arkansas, Virginia, North Carolina, Texas, Colorado, Georgia, New Hampshire and Louisiana) include key primary and general-election battlegrounds for the ongoing presidential campaign.
The most important reason to oppose the Marketplace Fairness Act and Remote Transactions Parity Act is that they are bad policy. They unwisely empower states to tax outside their borders; establish a decidedly “un-level” playing field between brick-and-mortar and online retailers; and impose substantial compliance burdens on innovative businesses. A broad range of policy organizations has registered their opposition to such bills for precisely those reasons. But polling also shows that such plans are deeply unpopular.
As efforts continue to attach an Internet sales-tax proposal to a moving legislative vehicle, R Street wanted to take this opportunity to remind Congress of the unified voice of Republicans, independents and Democrats pushing back against such attempts.