Internet Tax Not A Popular Proposition, According to R Street/NTU Poll

Andrew Moylan of R Street says members of Congress — right, left, and center — who value their electoral health should steer clear of the Marketplace Fairness Act. It polls poorly in all groups as Americans realize this is just another way to prop up inefficient businesses at the expense of the general welfare.

Here are some facts on the MFA from CEI Adjunct Scholar Jessica Melugin.

And here is the R Street press release on the poll:

new poll released today by the R Street Institute and National Taxpayers Union found strong opposition across the board to new Internet sales tax legislation like the so-called “Marketplace Fairness Act. Conducted a month after a Gallup poll that found 57% opposed to the concept, the new R Street-NTU poll also found 57% against with just 35% in favor. Politico covered the poll this morning, a story I pasted below.

In addition to a 22 point margin against the law overall, conservatives particularly despise it. Self-described Republicans oppose it by a 38.5 point margin, those self-identified as voting for Republicans oppose it by a 39.2 point margin, and self-identified conservatives by a 37.5 point margin. A separate survey of likely GOP primary voters found that they’re more likely by a 53.6 point margin to vote for a candidate that opposes that bill than one who supports it.

But it’s not just conservatives that dislike the bill. Key swing demographics that any politician needs in order to create winning coalitions also oppose it. Suburban voters dislike it by a 21.5 point spread, women under 40 by 12.8 points, and independents by 19.6. Even Democrats and self-identified liberals oppose the bill, by a 5.1 and 1.8 point margin respectively. And when we tested messages in favor of and in opposition to the bill, voters side with anti-MFA arguments much more strongly. The margins ranged between 32 and 35 points against it, or roughly 2:1 against.

The Marketplace Fairness Act is bad policy because it would unwisely allow states to expand their tax and audit authority across their borders, impose serious compliance burdens on businesses that sell online, and allow for the imposition of a decidedly “unlevel” playing field by requiring different collection standards for sales made online vs. in-store. Turns out that the bill is awful politics as well.

Months ago, I wrote that conservatives should “run, not walk” away from the bill. These new poll results suggest that moderates and liberals should follow them too, if they value elective office.