California voters are split about new legislation that would require Internet retailers to begin collecting sales tax on online purchases, according to the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences/Los Angeles Times Poll. This week, opponents of the so-called “Amazon tax” were given approval by Secretary of State Debra Bowen to begin collecting signatures for a ballot referendum to overturn the measure.
Conducted July 6-17, 2011, the latest USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll shows 46 percent of voters favoring the online sales tax as a revenue source to help balance the budget and pay for state services. Forty-nine percent opposed the measure, which would raise taxes and could hurt local businesses who sell products through online retailers such as Amazon.com.
This will be a costly media campaign and remember once the half million or so signatures are collected, the internet sales taxes are suspended until after the election. Also, the way the referendum is worded, voting NO means NO Tax – a clear advantage to the referendum proponents.
Now, whether Walmart and Target will team up with Big Labor and the Democrats to fight the referendum will be an interesting development. The early polling may scare them away from such a massive ad driven campaign though.
Non-white voters are slightly more likely than White voters to oppose the tax. Among White voters, 47 percent favor the tax and 49 percent oppose it. Among non-white voters, 43 percent favor the tax and 52 percent oppose it, including 57 percent of Black voters and 52 percent of Latino voters.
Younger voters are also more likely than older voters to oppose the tax. Fifty-nine percent of young men oppose the tax, as do a majority – 52 percent – of young women. (37 percent of young men and 45 percent of young women support the tax.)
Overall, 55 percent of young voters opposed taxing online purchases by California residentsand 41 percent support it. In contrast, 43 percent of voters over the age of 50 oppose taxing online purchases, and 52 percent support it.
Opposition to the sales tax correlated to online shopping habits. Among voters who do most of their shopping online, 61 percent oppose taxing online purchases and 39 percent support it.
But a significant majority of California voters — 82 percent — currently do little or no shopping online. Among voters who never shop online, 48 percent support charging sales tax for online purchases, and 45 percent oppose it.