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When should sales tax be collected online? Garden State residents can't make up their minds

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Gov. Chris Christie's proposed budget for next year would require Internet retailers to charge sales tax on residents.
Gov. Chris Christie's proposed budget for next year would require Internet retailers to charge sales tax on residents. - (Governor's Office / Tim Larsen)

Half of New Jersey residents think retailers should charge a sales tax when purchasing goods online, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll released Thursday, while 42 percent say Internet retailers shouldn't have to collect it at all.

Even if out-of-state online retailers don’t charge the tax, New Jersey residents are required to pay for them later when they file their taxes — few follow through, resulting in a deficit of tax revenue for the state.

But Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed budget for next year would require Internet retailers to charge sales tax on residents, which his administration believes would create revenue in the millions.

“Changing the timing for collecting Internet sales tax may be embraced by many, since it will increase state revenue, but a sizable minority seems to like things the way they are,” Poll Director and Farleigh Dickinson Professor Krista Jenkins said.

The poll found that nearly three-quarters of New Jersey residents have purchased something online in the past 12 months.

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College graduates, non-Internet shoppers and older residents lean more toward requiring the online sales tax.

“With the Internet increasingly used for purchases both big and small, exotic and mundane, many consumers have grown accustomed to saving money by not paying sales tax,” Jenkins said. “Although the revenue would be helpful to New Jersey’s struggling finances, there’s almost as much opposition to the change as there is support.”

The last time this poll was conducted was in July 2012.  At that time, more than half (54 percent) said the tax came as a burden to consumers and was not worth the benefit it would bring to the state, while 33 percent were sympathetic toward the state’s finances.

The poll of 907 New Jersey residents was conducted from May 27 to June 1.

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Emily Bader

Emily Bader

Emily Bader is the copy and web editor at NJBIZ. She is a Brielle, N.J. native and a Rutgers University alum. You can contact her at emilyb@njbiz.com or @emilybader on Twitter.

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