Majority of Americans oppose Internet sales taxes, according to new NTU, R Street Institute study

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, September 16, 2013

Public support is waning for the Marketplace Fairness Act, according to a new poll commissioned by the National Taxpayers Union and the R Street Institute.

The poll, which was released last week, found that 57 percent of all likely voters oppose legislation like the Marketplace Fairness Act, which lets states force tax collection obligations on Internet purchases made from businesses outside their borders. The Senate passed the Marketplace Fairness Act back in May.

The study also found that just one in three likely voters favor a new federal Internet sales tax scheme.

“I think these poll results show that the public has seen the MFA, listened to its best arguments, and aren’t buying any of them,” Pete Sepp of the NTU said on a conference call for reporters Friday. “I think they provide a very powerful indication of where the electorate is.”

The Marketplace Fairness Act is one of the few bills with which Americans are generally opposed across the board – regardless of party, gender and age. The study found that a majority of swing voters, including ticket-splitters, suburban voters, independents and younger women all oppose the legislation, by double-digits.

The numbers also confirmed the findings of a June Gallup study, when 57 percent of Americans opposed the law.

“People very strongly dislike this bill, and we’ve long made the argument that the bill is terrible policy because it expands state tax collection and it has serious constitutional issues, and this just sort of reinforces the idea that it’s also bad politics,” RSI’s Andrew Moylan said on the call.

Internet sales taxes have an adverse reaction on Millennials, as nearly half of all likely voters under the age of 40 purchase goods and services online on a regular basis according to the study. The NTU and R Street Institute believe that the issue is one that could help win over younger voters, as a result, given that a majority of younger Americans oppose the legislation.

Republicans in Washington are more mixed than those nationwide on the prospect of an Internet sales tax, however. Senators Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), John McCain (Ariz.), and Richard Shelby all sponsored the chamber’s bill. Tea Party Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas firmly oppose it, and even assailed the bill in a Capitol Hill press conference back in June.

“This bill is a mad bill and unfortunately it passed the U.S Senate,” Cruz said during the presser. “The reason that it passed and it passed with significant margin is because you have a lot of lobbyists in Washington who are supporting this bill…Small businesses don’t have lobbyists in D.C.”

The bill could come up in the House this fall, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) is expected to released his own set of principles on the issue sometime this month according to The HillHouse Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and several other top Republicans in the chamber have expressed their concerns about the Senate’s bill as well.

Mercury conducted a study of 1,000 likely voters nationwide for The National Taxpayer Union and R Street Institution via telephone from July 10-11, 2013. The study has a margin of error of +/- 3 percent at a 95 percent confidence level. 

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