Poll finds Tennesseans don't agree on online sales taxes

Poll finds Tennesseans don't agree on online sales taxes

May 21st, 2013 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

An employee works at an Amazon distribution center in Fernley, Nev. Contributed Photo

An employee works at an Amazon distribution center...

POLL: Should Internet transactions be subject to sales tax?

NASHVILLE - A just-released Vanderbilt University survey finds Tennesseans conflicted on the issue of the state being able to collect sales taxes for online purchases.

Fifty-five percent called it a bad policy, while 38 percent called it good.

But when asked whether the current system is fair or unfair to local businesses that do have to collect the sales tax, registered voters were evenly split at 47 percent each.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate passed legislation giving states the authority require online retailers with no physical in-state presence to collect sales taxes on purchases made by Tennesseans. U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., both voted for the bill.

But the legislation has problems in the U.S. House. Six of the state's seven congressional Republicans are undecided with U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., rejecting it.

The poll of 813 registered voters also shows:

* Sixty percent of those surveyed now support expanding the Medicaid health program for the poor under the federal Affordable Care Act. Thirty-three percent said they oppose the expansion.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has rejected the expansion for now as he seeks to bargain with federal officials on extending the program to an estimated 180,000 low-income Tennesseans.

* Sixty-three percent of those polled said they approve of Haslam's job performance, down from 68 percent from Vanderbilt University's survey in late 2012.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, meaning Haslam's job performance rating may be virtually unchanged.

Vanderbilt's Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions conducted the poll to see what Tennesseans think of the state's political leaders and pressing issues.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.