Overwhelming Majority Say State Should Not Be Collecting Personal Information on Shopping Habits, NetChoice Survey Finds
An overwhelming majority of Coloradans believe a state law forcing online and catalog businesses to report personal purchase information to state tax authorities is an invasion of privacy, per a new NetChoice survey of Colorado residents.* Residents also view the law’s misguided aim to collect sales and use taxes as a statewide tax increase.
Fully 78 percent of Coloradans said the state should not be allowed to force businesses to turn over information on their internet purchases, including the retailer’s name, the customer’s name, the billing address, the shipping address, and the amount of purchases.
Sixty-seven percent said the Colorado law violates their expectation of privacy from government intrusion into their online and catalog purchases. Eight-four (84) percent said that when making online purchases, their privacy is “very important” and another 14 percent said it is “somewhat important.” Only 2 percent of Coloradans indicated privacy was not an important factor.
Meanwhile, 60 percent said they consider the law’s intent equivalent to a statewide tax increase. Two of three Coloradans said the state should not attempt to regulate online businesses located in other states and force them to report on their Colorado customers.
“Colorado consumers are in for a rude privacy shock when this law goes into full effect,” NetChoice Executive Director Steve DelBianco said. “In many cases, linking a particular retailer to a specific customer will give the state information on that individual’s health concerns, political leanings, sexual orientation, personal tastes, and financial circumstances.”
“By collecting shipping addresses, the state government will learn when a Colorado citizen has his gift purchases delivered to a different address, potentially revealing personal and very private relationships,” DelBianco continued.
“This polling shows the majority of the citizens in Colorado are deeply concerned about their online purchases and privacy,” Colorado Senate Majority Leader, Chris Holbert said. “The online purchases from Colorado citizens should be protected information – which our current online purchase law does not protect.”
“Since 2010 when this issue first hit Colorado, consumer privacy from state government was always a first concern,” Amy Stephens, Former House Majority Leader said. “Today, after numerous court battles, this issue is a reality at our doorstep for Colorado citizens, and we must protect them from this intrusion.”
If sales tax is not collected at the time of sale, Colorado’s tattletale reporting law requires catalog and online retailers to disclose to state tax authorities personal information on Colorado shoppers’ purchases, including:
- The catalog or online store where the Colorado resident made purchases
- The name and address of the Colorado resident paying for the products or services
- The address of the Colorado resident receiving the products or services
- How much the Colorado resident spent during the prior year
Additionally, the law contains no provision for protecting the confidentiality of the information merchants must turn over to the Department of Revenue, meaning it could be shared with other government agencies and used for purposes other than tax collection.
The Colorado tattletale law was passed as an attempt to get around the physical presence rule established by the 1992 Supreme Court decision in Quill.
NetChoice is a trade association representing leading eCommerce businesses working to protect free enterprise and free expression on the Internet.
*The interactive survey of 500 Colorado residents was conducted by Morar Consulting and has a margin of error of +/- 4%.
1) Should state governments, like Colorado, force businesses to turn over information on your Internet purchases- such as retailer’s name, your name, billing address, shipping address and amount of purchase?
Not Sure 11%
2) Recently, lawmakers have been looking for ways to collect more taxes on online purchases. Supreme Court precedent only requires businesses to collect sales tax in states where the business has a physical presence. So, if a business does not have a presence in a state, it is up to the consumer to report the purchase and pay sales tax to their state. Colorado will soon enforce a new law that requires retailers to hand-over to state tax authorities information on online purchases by Colorado residents, if sales tax was not paid at the time of the sale. What is your perspective?
It’s fine for states to compel online businesses to report information on residents’ purchases in order to increase sales tax collection. 19%
Requiring businesses to give my personal information to the state violates my expectation of consumer privacy. 67%
Not Sure 15%
3) How important is your privacy when you make an online purchase?
Very important 84%
Somewhat important 14%
Somewhat unimportant 2%
Not important 0%
4) It has been long held that states can only impose tax obligations on businesses that have a physical presence in the state. Colorado’s law imposes tax or reporting obligations on businesses that have no physical presence in the state, but sell products to Colorado citizens via catalogs or the Internet. Would you consider this law a statewide tax increase?
Not Sure 17%
5) Do you think other state reporting laws will hurt Colorado businesses?
Not Sure 24%
6) Should Colorado be allowed to regulate online businesses located in other states and force them to collect sales tax if those businesses sell to Colorado customers?
Not sure 15%
7) Do you think the new law is good or bad for Colorado consumers?
The law is bad for Colorado consumers 68%
The law is good for Colorado consumers 10%
Not sure 22%
8) Some opponents of the law have described it as a “tattletale” reporting. What is your opinion?
I agree. The law requires businesses to “tattle” on the purchases of their customers. 74%
I disagree. Colorado should be able to force businesses to provide this information on purchases by its citizens. 12%
Not sure 14%
- The interactive survey of 500 Colorado residents was conducted by Morar Consulting and has a margin of error of +/- 4% January 2017