Supreme Court to decide if all online retailers must collect sales tax

18 April, 2018, 04:57 | Author: Terri Saunders
  • Sales Tax across Pinal County is up half a cent

The South Dakota law breaks with Supreme Court precedent set in the 1992 case of Quill vs.

Tomorrow the Supreme Court will take up a case to overturn a 1990s decision (the Quill case) that prohibited states from collecting sales tax from online sales where the seller does not have a physical presence in the state. "Online sellers who don't have to collect sales tax have held an unfair price advantage over local retailers for far too long". Forty states brought the case, arguing that online merchants that don't collect sales tax cost them billions of dollars in lost tax revenue.

With the Supreme Court expected to act by June, states, retailers, and online shoppers alike are anxious to see just how the tax treatment of online transactions may change this summer.

Congress weighed in on the issue a year ago, as a bipartisan group of senators introduced the Marketplace Fairness Act, legislation that would require all businesses selling online to collect sales tax for the state where the consumer making the purchase resides.

"Amazon could be favorably affected by a decision in favor of South Dakota because it would increase the demand for its fee-based service to collect sales taxes", he says. "A ruling by the Supreme Court that endorses economic nexus could lead to additional compliance complexity as jurisdictions modify their sales tax rules to more closely resemble the economic nexus rules approved by the court". That's the question the U.S. Supreme Court is taking up - and it all stems from a South Dakota law.

While this morning's arguments involve discount decor giant Wayfair, the case sprouted from a law that South Dakota crafted in response to Quill Corp. v. North Dakota from the era of printed catalogs that requires retailers to collect sales taxes only in states where they have a physical presence.

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This leaves small business with traditional storefronts at a competitive disadvantage with the online retailers that are increasingly becoming more dominant forces in the market, Jackley argued.

Three justices - Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch - have questioned the wisdom of Quill.

MA is among 45 states that impose a sales tax for online purchases. The court reaffirmed the rule in 1992.

On Tuesday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg seemed willing them to join them, suggesting the court's past decisions were "obsolete precedent".

"Why should this court favor a particular business model that relies not on brick and mortar, but on mail order?" Sellers not collecting sales tax must also send an end-of-the-year report of their sales in the state to the Department of Revenue.



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