Originally created 09/15/99

Survey: Internet tax opposed

NEW YORK -- A commission made up of government and business representatives that is studying how to tax purchases over the Internet could hit some heavy public opposition, judging from a survey released on the first day of the group's meeting in New York.

More than a third of registered voters who are active Internet users, or 36 percent, would be less likely to vote for a political candidate who supports taxes on Internet purchases, according to the poll, released Tuesday by the Gallup Organization and @plan, an online market research firm. All told, 73 percent of active Internet users oppose an Internet sales tax, compared to 14 percent in favor.

The poll also found that 58 percent believe taxing goods and services bought online would hurt the growth of Internet commerce.

The findings suggest why the 19-member Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce, created last year by Congress, remains divided on key issues seven months before it is scheduled to make tax policy recommendations.

"Registered voters are saying it may become an issue with political traction," said Mark Wright, chief executive of @plan, based in Stamford, Conn.

Congress formed the commission last October as it imposed a three-year moratorium on any new state or local taxes on Internet access or sales.

The commission is composed of representatives from eight businesses, eight state and local governments and three appointed by the Clinton administration. The group has until next April to make recommendations, which could result in legislation.

Many members of the group have voiced support for some form of taxation as long as the system makes it easy for companies to collect. Paramount among the considerations is gaining agreements from governments to adopt a single tax rate for each state, or to adopt new technologies that would allow businesses to figure out any tax rate.


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