Anti-tax experts agree that young Americans will be the ones to lead charge against Marketplace Fairness Act


Regardless of their opinion on Congress’ Marketplace Fairness Act, anti-tax experts largely agree that young people can be the impetus to prevent states from taxing online purchases.

In fact, it will likely be one of the younger members of Congress who ultimately leads the charge against the Senate’s Marketplace Fairness Act, according to panelists at an America’s Future Foundation event held at the Cato Institute on Tuesday.

“A lot of the people leading the charge against it in the House tend to be junior—they lack the seniority some of the proponents do,” Brandon Arnold, the vice president of government affairs at the National Taxpayers Union said, with other panelists offering Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) as an example of such a leader on the issue.

Kelly Cobb, the senior director of external affairs at the Cato Institute, added that while most Americans already oppose the bill, it is really younger ones that are the most fired up by it. 

“It’s rooted in a cultural change, it’s generational,” Cobb said. “[Shopping online] is just how young people engage in the marketplace.”

A recent study by Gallup found that 73 percent of Millennials oppose the Senate’s legislation.

Jessica Melugin, an adjunct analyst with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said that she hoped young people’s unique understanding of the bill would help to prevent its becoming law.

“Your generation will be stuck with whatever comes out of it,” she said. “I want young people to hit this full force.”

As for what could come out of the bill, Melugin said the Act would benefit already existing big retailers, both in stores and online, but harm smaller, mom-and-pop companies – forcing them to turn to an platform for sales.

“Burdening these small online entrepreneurs with the Marketplace Fairness Act would drive a lot of them off the map,” she added. “Amazon has an obligation to its shareholders, not to free-market principles.”

Arnold also said he rejected the notion that Internet commerce harms consumers, citing several recent customer-friendly innovations undertaken by electronics retailer Best Buy Co., Inc. as examples of consumers benefiting from competition.

“Do we really want to undermine competition? If we do, we’ll see those advantages disappear quickly,” he said. “We need to allow the free market to deliver goods and services as quickly and efficiently as possible.”