Warning to Peach State politicians: 71 percent of Georgians oppose the so-called “Marketplace Fairness Act”

August 17, 2014 15:26 pm

by Jason · 17 comments

A recent poll conducted on behalf of the R Street Institute and the National Taxpayers Union found that nearly three-quarters of likely Georgia voters oppose the Marketplace Fairness Act, a measure that would allow states to impose and collect sales taxes on Internet purchases from online retailers across state lines:

In the survey of likely 2014 general election voters in Georgia, strong majorities across many ideological and partisan persuasions also indicated their belief that the Internet should remain as free from regulation and taxation as possible (by an overwhelming 51-point margin). One of the most lopsided results concerned federal legislation in Congress called the “Marketplace Fairness Act” – when told (factually) the plan “would allow tax enforcement agents from one state to collect taxes from online retailers based in a different state,” 71 percent of respondents were opposed with just 23 percent in favor.

“It’s clear that Georgians believe that the Internet exists to improve their lives and those of their neighbors, not so that Georgia e-retailers can be used to plug the budget gaps of other states,” said Christian Cámara, State Affairs Director of the R Street Institute. “While Georgia conservatives are strongly against such a law, it’s striking that opposition crosses political divides as independents and Democrats join them in forcefully rejecting new state tax enforcement powers over the Internet. These opinions should be carefully studied by candidates up and down the ballot here in Georgia.”

“Our poll is designed to explore the specific – and sophisticated – opinions of Georgia voters on this critical issue,” said Pete Sepp, President of National Taxpayers Union. “Georgia politicians of all persuasions and philosophies should take note of the results and listen to voters, not some outspoken Washington special interests. Any candidate who had numbers like this Internet tax collection scheme would have to seriously reconsider his or her political future.”

Here’s a look at the key question from the results of the poll, which, as you can see, shows strong opposition across party, ideological, and age demographics:

Some may take issue with the question wording, but even when adjusted to a more simplistic presentation of the issue, nearly two-thirds of likely voters reject the proposed Internet sales tax:

I’m told that the R Street Institute is working on alternatives to the Marketplace Fairness Act, which, if passed, would impose a heavy regulatory burden on online retailers. The measure is currently stalled in the House of Representatives, but supporters from both parties are planning to attach it to a temporary extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which bans state and local taxation on Internet access.

Disclosure: I’m an associate policy analyst of the R Street Institute.

Max Power August 17, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Voters want government services and balanced budgets but don’t want to pay taxes. In other news dog bites man.

seenbetrdayz August 17, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Well, I wouldn’t mind fewer services but liberals keep telling me I want them.

Harry August 17, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Yep +1

Max Power August 18, 2014 at 4:31 pm

If my liberals you mean the majority of voters than you are correct.

John Konop August 17, 2014 at 5:37 pm

I do not get it…..you can debate tax rate all day long…..a sale is a sale….if it is on a boat, train, plan, Internet……it should all pay the same sales tax rate via state law. What am I missing?

John Konop August 17, 2014 at 8:50 pm

Jason do you think transaction done by phone should be taxed? If a retailer uses a Mobil phone and takes the transaction should that be taxed? If so help me understand the difference in your mind if a retailer used a phone to take the transaction verse the Internet via tax rules in your mind?

Harry August 17, 2014 at 9:42 pm

The difference is sales tax nexus in Georgia or not.

Harry August 17, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Nontaxability of no-nexus transactions is based on a Supreme Court decision that relies on the Commerce Clause. Maybe one of the legal eagles can inform us if Congress can trump the Supreme Court. I know it didn’t work for the Defense of Marriage Act. In this situation the SC already has made a ruling limiting states rights to tax on interstate sales.

John Konop August 18, 2014 at 6:30 am

I am no lawyer….it makes no sense…..if I pre pay my limo, taxi…..when I travel via the Internet it is not taxable…but if I pay in person it is? If you support the above logic you are not conservative just looking for loopholes in laws….picking winners and losers……

saltycracker August 17, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Times are changing and an Amazon is not just one big gal in this jungle. Time to get current with the trade. No problem with the local govt getting their rake when money changes hands but this big pile needs some trade offs. So what can be eliminated – raise homestead exemptions to $300k ?

Chris Huttman August 17, 2014 at 11:24 pm

Why not just lower the sales tax rate by 0.25% for everything? Not many people benefit from a homestead exemption that high.

Dave Bearse August 20, 2014 at 1:14 am

Or maybe whatever other rate makes the change revenue neutral. Exactly the concept espoused generally by conservative, broaden the base and lower the rate, except when its not.

CJBear71 August 17, 2014 at 11:28 pm

The Supreme Court specifically said that Congress controls interstate commerce, and they could in fact allow states to collect sales taxes on remote sales if they so choose.

Everyone forgets that there is a use tax in Georgia. If a consumer buys something online but the retailer doesn’t collect sales taxes, buyers are supposed to remit use taxes to the state in their annual returns. Which is about the worst way to have enforcement of a tax – voluntarily report, voluntarily remit. If GA took in sales tax on all remote sales, they could collect another $800 million in taxes annually – more than what the state put back into education this year and more than what is needed for expanding Medicaid.

Harry August 17, 2014 at 11:48 pm

Thanks for the clarification on Congress’ authority regarding the Commerce Clause. Maybe in the age of Big Data states could send taxpayers a tax bill for everything they purchased online the previous year. Problem is, some states wouldn’t do it and so gain a competitive advantage over the others.

CJBear71 August 18, 2014 at 12:19 am

Actually, a few states (Tennessee I think) have tried to get consumer data from big companies like Amazon, but I don’t think any have gone so far as to send people bills. They just had retailers send reminder emails. Others have tried to increase awareness and put use taxes more prominently on return forms. This has barely generated any money due.

saltycracker August 19, 2014 at 2:52 pm

The software is available to collect sales tax any way you desire and remit to any taxing agency required.

The amazing software is predicting what you will pay for something on line (it has proven to boost profits). Kinda makes sales tax play second fiddle.

The Silicon Valley is way ahead of the legislators.

FranInAtlanta August 18, 2014 at 11:52 am

Personally, I have no objection to paying sales tax for what I buy on-line, but I’ll be darned if I am going to keep track of it and send an annual payment. For openers, I can never keep track of what is and isn’t taxable and I never know when sales tax will or will not be applied.

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