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There’s been some confusion in recent days about whether the 258 members of Congress who have signed Grover Norquist’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” are allowed to vote in favor a bill that lets states collect sales taxes owed on purchases made over the Internet. There is no reason for any confusion on this point. Anybody with 15 seconds of free time and the ability to read the one sentence promise contained in the national pledge can see it’s completely irrelevant to the debate over online sales taxes:
I will: ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.
Since federal income tax rates, deductions, and credits are altered exactly zero times in the online sales tax legislation set to be voted on by the Senate, Grover’s federal affairs manager is being less than truthful when she says that “there’s really not any way an elected official [who signed the pledge] can vote for this.”
There’s no doubt that Grover would be tickled pink to have gotten 258 of our elected officials to pledge opposition to improving states’ ability to limit sales tax evasion over the Internet. For that matter, he would probably be even more excited to have gotten those officials to promise to vote against any increase in the estate tax, gasoline tax, or cigarette tax, as well as the creation of a carbon tax or a VAT. But none of these things fall within the scope of the pledge, either, and it’s a shame that Grover and his spokespeople have shown no interest in being truthful on this point.