US Supreme Court rules that states can tax online sales

23 June, 2018, 04:08 | Author: Sammy Rose
  • The U.S. Supreme Court building

Lawmakers can model the South Dakota law that was at issue before the Supreme Court, which would require retailers to collect the tax only if they delivered more than $100,000 of goods or services into the state or had more than 200 deliveries a year.

South Dakota brought the lawsuit against major online retailers for failing to comply with its new sales tax law, in an effort to get the Supreme Court to revisit the Quill decision.

"For years, online-only retailers have exploited this loophole that allows them not to collect sales tax, which has given them an unfair competitive advantage over brick-and-mortar stores", said James Miller, a spokesman for the Florida Retail Federation.

"Trump Store could have been collecting sales taxes on its bathrobes and slippers and golf balls all along, but it made a business decision not to do so and, until now, states had limited options for requiring tax collection", he said. That case involved Colorado's attempt to collect taxes from online retailers indirectly by making them report sales to the state. Five states don't charge sales tax. The big question for Amazon.com Inc.is how states will collect it. Kennedy wrote that the unfairness of the tax collection situation also could be an incentive to avoid opening storefronts or distribution centers in states such as Florida, just to avoid collecting the sales tax.

"Statutes of this sort are likely to embroil courts in technical and arbitrary disputes about what counts as a physical presence", he wrote. Mail-order sales in 1992 were only $180 billion, while online sales past year topped $450 billion.

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South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said South Dakota businesses will now have tax fairness and a level playing field. The court decision could also be important in Florida because of the state's heavy reliance on sales-tax revenue.


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"The decision leaves e-commerce and especially small sellers extremely vulnerable to states gluttonous for tax revenue particularly from consumers and businesses with no representation in their state", said Tom Giovanetti, president of the Institute for Policy Innovation.

Chief Justice John Roberts agrees. "Nor would it be worth the hassle to charge them sales tax up front and then send a refund later if the tax isn't required".

Last year, the Government Accounting Office estimated that state and local governments were collecting 75% to 80% of the taxes they are owed from "remote sellers", but they were nonetheless losing between $8 billion and $13.4 billion a year in uncollected taxes for online sales. At the time, the ruling was focused on mail-order catalogs, but it has held up even as shopping has transitioned to online instead.

"Any adjustment to those rules with the potential to disrupt the development of such a critical segment of the economy should be undertaken by Congress", Roberts wrote. They often don't have the resources to handle the patchwork of sales taxes across multiple states, according to the retailers, while larger outlets like Amazon don't have that problem. Marketplace sellers weren't previously required to automatically collect sales tax on their sales, and the ruling may hurt their sales. "Here in California, we already pay sales taxes on Amazon transactions". In that case, Quill v.

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