Shoppers vote no on an online sales tax

The opposition includes voters of all stripes.

Paul Demery

In a recent survey of 1,000 consumers identified as “likely voters,” more than half, or 57.1%, said they were opposed to a pending law that would lead to the collection of online sales tax by a larger number of retailers. 35.1% said they supported the bill, leaving 7.8% who didn’t voice an opinion.

The survey, conducted for the National Taxpayer’s Union by Mercury, a public affairs research and consulting firm, found more opponents than supporters of the bill—known as the Marketplace Fairness Act, which passed the Senate in May and is now before the House. And that was true among all of the 17 categories of respondents organized by such criteria as age, income level, area of residence and political party.

Details on the House version of the bill, meanwhile, are expected to be released as early as next week, sources in the House say.

Following are the percentages of supporters and opponents of the bill for each of several categories of respondents:

● Under 40 years of age, 38.6 %, 55.2%

● 40+, 34.3%, 57.7%

● 65+, 38.2%, 49.2%

● Income under $50,000, 34.9%, 55.5%

● $50,000 - $100,000, 34.8%, 58.7%

● $100,000+, 36.3%, 59.0%

● Eastern U.S., 39.1%, 57.1%

● Midwest, 40.9%, 51.6%

● South, 32.1%, 61.0%

● West, 29.4%, 59.3%

● Located in large city, 44.0%, 47.8%

● Small city/town, 32.9%, 58.1%

● Suburbs, 36.4%, 57.9%

● Rural area, 30.1%, 61.4%

The Marketplace Fairness bill, which the Senate approved by a vote of 69 to 27 in May, is now before the House Judiciary Committee. A source close to the committee says it’s prepared to release details on a House version of the bill as early as next week. An aide for the committee declined today to confirm that, but noted that the committee is “examining all of the issues surrounding the collection of online sales tax and working on alternatives to the bill passed by the Senate.”

Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R, VA) has said that he feels the Senate version of the bill doesn’t offer enough clarification of how it would affect businesses. The bill, introduced in the Senate by Dick Durbin (D, IL) and Mike Enzi (R, WY), seeks to allow states to mandate sales tax collection by online and catalog retailers whether or not they have a physical presence in a customer’s state. Current federal law says states can only mandate tax collection by retailers with an in-state physical presence such as stores or distribution centers.



Bob Goodlatte, Congress, Dick Durbin, e-commerce, legal and regulatory, Marketplace Fairness Act, Mike Enzi, National Taxpayer’s Union, online sales tax