MADISON, NJ - As the state and federal government consider ending the ban on sales tax for Internet purchases, New Jerseyans express a resounding “no” and believe the added burden to consumers far outweighs the benefits to the state, according to the most recent PublicMind survey of Garden State residents aged 18 and older. Fifty-four percent do not believe that ending the consumer-friendly practice is worth it, compared to just a third (33%) who say the state’s financial bottom line justifies the added tax.
“Although a sales tax on Internet purchases would result in higher revenue for the state, Garden Staters feel their overall tax burden is big enough,” said Krista Jenkins, Executive Director of PublicMind and a professor of political science.
A majority of all respondents (56%) have heard at least something about the prospective change to the law, and of these close to two-thirds (63%) say they have “a lot” or “some” interest in the issue. Men are slightly more likely than women to report being aware of the proposed change (42 versus 28 percent who say they have heard or read “a lot” or “some” about the issue), as are those 35 years of age or older.
A gender gap persists when the question turns to support for or opposition to ending the ban on sales tax for Internet purchases. Although majorities of both men and women (50 and 58%, respectively) agree that the change would hurt consumers more than help the state, men are significantly more likely to believe the benefits to the state outweigh any burden to consumers. Thirty-nine percent of men side with the proposed change, compared with 27 percent of women.
"Since women remain the ones who are primarily responsible for household purchases, they are more poised to feel the effects of an additional sales tax on Internet purchases,” said Jenkins.
Party differences are negligible. More than half of both Democrats and Republicans (53 and 59%) believe the change is not worth it for consumers, and almost half (49%) of independents are dubious as well.
“The fact that Democrats and Republicans approach this issue from the same perspective suggests it’s going to be a tough sell for both sides,” according to Jenkins. “No matter who pitches it to voters, their efforts are likely to be understood as making it harder for individuals rather than acting as responsible stewards for the state’s finances.”
The Fairleigh Dickinson University statewide poll of 945 registered and unregistered voters was conducted by telephone with both landline and cell phones from July 23 through July 29, 2012, and has a margin of error of +/-3.3 percentage points.