Would the Marketplace Fairness Act lead to... less taxes?

Ever since the MFA passed the Senate by a rather convincing margin there has been more than a little unrest among the ranks of conservatives. This was a given from day one, since we’re talking about taxes here. But even assuming that it makes it all the way to the President’s desk for a signature, could the new law actually result in tax relief, rather than additional tax burdens? That sounds like a tough sell, but there are more than a few traditional conservative voices making that case. Here are a few of them.


Scott Walker:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) promised on Wednesday to lower state income taxes if Congress approves online sales tax legislation.

In a letter to the state’s members of Congress, Walker said the Wisconsin Department of Revenue estimates that the online sales tax bill would bring in $95 million in additional state revenue every year.

Jeb Bush:

“It seems to me there has to be a way to tax sales done online in the same way that sales are taxed in brick and mortar establishments,” Bush wrote to Scott. “My guess is that there would be hundreds of millions of dollars that then could be used to reduce taxes to fulfill campaign promises.”

Ohio’s Republican State Legislature:

“… has already passed a law declaring that passage of the Marketplace Fairness Act will mean a reduced overall sales tax rate.”

And, of course, this may all be an exercise in Sturm und Drang over nothing, as the usual voices across the street have yet to be heard from.

Marketplace Fairness Act Won’t Pass Says House Judiciary Chairman

In an interview with Roanoke, VA NBC affiliate WSLS10, Representative Bob Goodlatte says it’s unlikely the Marketplace Fairness Act will pass in the House. The act would require online businesses to collect sales tax even in states where they don’t have a physical presence.

Having been following this from the beginning, I see a number of reasons why this may not be as much of a reason for conservatives to raise a hot fuss as some opponents have been saying. First, as noted at the last link, this measure involves the word “tax” so its odds in the House were never great, though there have been rumors of a lot of pressure from big donors in the business community and a ground game to “save the mom and pop shops.” Second, even if it does pass and get signed into law, the way the bill is written implies that it’s still just an option for the states, so they would still have to act to implement it. The most conservative ones won’t.


And finally, even where it did wind up being implemented, it sounds like the conservative state leaders above will use it as a tool to lower taxes across the board, sticking to the idea of locking future revenue gains into corresponding tax cuts to stimulate growth. If we’re going to start lumping Scott Walker in with tax and spend liberals, the argument has pretty much spun off the end of the silly scale anyway.

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