Supreme Court to hear online sales tax case

Supreme Court to hear sales tax collection case

As we explained in a recent amicus brief urging the Court to take the case, South Dakota's sales tax is uniquely well-structured, as it is one of a few states that taxes most all final goods and services.

"States' inability to effectively collect sales tax from internet sellers imposes crushing harm on state treasuries and brick-and-mortar retailers alike", South Dakota said in its Supreme Court appeal. Kennedy said in 2015 that Quill had produced a "startling revenue shortfall" in many states, as well as "unfairness" to local retailers and their customers.

But the explosion of internet sales has put pressure on Congress and the court to reconsider the issue.

States and counties told the court they lose between $13 billion and $34 billion each year because they can not collect sales taxes on all online purchases.

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That would be a victory for states and traditional businesses, but a defeat for smaller online retailers who claim they can not navigate dozens of state sales tax systems the way major players such as Amazon do. North Dakota, centered on a mail-order business and inadvertently set a far-reaching precedent for e-commerce companies by only allowing states to collect sales tax from businesses with a "physical presence" in a given state.

But many states are now ignoring the Quill decision, and absent the Court's action-or legislation from Congress-this will result in a complex and indefensible patchwork of laws harming interstate commerce.

Gorsuch, the newest Supreme Court justice, suggested skepticism about Quill as an appeals court judge. On Friday, the court said it will hear the case of South Dakota vs. Wayfair in April, with a ruling likely by late June.

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