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WSJ readers weigh-in: After seeing both sides, it’s a Landslide

Every once in a while, a rigorous debate will actually sway public opinion.

Yesterday,  the Wall Street Journal published an impressive special section on tech issues that featured arguments from both sides. And it included a debate over new sales tax requirements for online retailers.

As I described yesterday, The Journal also published survey results based on a poll conducted weeks earlier, so there were already over 2,000 votes (60%) for the position that retailers should have to collect sales tax for all states — even where they have no physical presence.

I was initially troubled that the survey results were compiled before readers had a chance to understand both sides of the argument. But then, within one day of seeing both sides presented, the poll results were reversed.

Over 2,500 WSJ readers hit the online survey yesterday and — by a 20-to-1 ratio — readers favored our argument that physical presence is still the right rule for imposing state tax collection obligations on businesses.

Polling now stands at 47% for our argument versus 39% for plans to require tax collection for all states and localities.

Thanks to the Journal for their excellent coverage of tech issues, and for keeping their online poll open so Journal readers could vote based on the arguments presented — not just their prior assumptions.