Majority of Americans support online sales tax, says survey

A new poll finds that the majority of Americans are in favor of requiring online retailers to charge sales tax at the point of purchase.

The survey, conducted by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), found that 59 percent of Americans support Congress passing such a law, up three points since May.

A higher percentage, 71 percent, say they prefer to shop locally to keep dollars within the community.

Of those who support the online sales tax, 82 percent say they do so because “common sense dictates that if you buy a product online you should pay the same sales tax as if you had bought the same product in a store.”

The way the law stands now, online retailers only collect sales taxes in states where they have a physical presence, a precedent established bythe 1992 Supreme Court decision Quill Corporation v. North Dakota.

Since then, as technology has changed and more and more sales are moving to the Internet, there has been an increased push for sales taxes to be collected on all online purchases.

Hearings were held during the summer on Capitol Hill debating legislation on this subject.

Opponents of the tax contend that collecting sales tax across multiple state lines will be an added burden on small businesses, which typically lack the resources and infrastructure to properly and lawfully collect the tax.

Proponents maintain that the Quill standard is the “most overlooked tax loophole.”

“Support for a federal solution to the problem that has plagued brick-and-mortar retailers across the country for more than two decades has never been stronger,” said Michael Kercheval, president and CEO of ICSC.

Central to the issue is where consumers want their sales tax dollars going, and whether lack of sales tax for certain retailers online is driving business away from local brick and mortar retailers.

“Local retailers invest in their communities and play a significant role in the overall quality of life in the places we call home,” said Betsy Laird, senior vice president of global public policy.

With discussion of taxes and budgetary issues at the forefront of public discussion right now, proponents are hoping to get the bills passed before the years end.

“With bills in the House and the Senate that have strong bipartisan support, we expect Congressional supporters of the legislation to push for passage during the lame-duck session,”  Kercheval added.

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