Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Supreme Court rules states can force online retailers to collect sales tax

Supreme Court rules for states in online sales tax case Supreme Court rules states can force online retailers to collect sales tax
Beatrice Douglas | 21 June, 2018, 19:55

The court on Thursday decided in favor of states in South Dakota vs. Wayfair, a direct challenge to a 1992 decision in Quill Corp. vs.

Internet retailers can be required to collect sales taxes in states where they have no physical presence, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday....

This overturns a decision from 1992 that mandated that states could levy taxes on businesses only if they had a brick-and-mortar presence within that state's borders.

The case is South Dakota v. Wayfair.

Large online retailers, like Amazon, tend to collect sales tax in most states, but not all. Customers were generally supposed to pay the tax to the state themselves if they were not charged by the merchant, but the vast majority of consumers did not.

One of the big advantages online retailers have had over your local shop is a lack of sales tax.


In truth, this doesn't have much impact on Amazon, which has been collecting sales tax across the country since past year.

"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 in a dissent joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. This system standardizes taxes to reduce administrative and compliance costs: It requires a single, state-level tax administration, uniform definitions of products and services, simplified tax rate structures, and other uniform rules. That minimum requirement was likely meant to avoid an undue burden on small-time mom-and-pop sellers on eBay, Amazon or other online marketplaces.

South Dakota concluded in 2016 that the explosion in online sales changed the market dramatically.

South Dakota wanted out-of-state retailers to begin collecting the tax and sued several of them: Overstock.com, electronics retailer Newegg and home goods company Wayfair.

The Trump administration had urged the justices to side with South Dakota.

But many online sellers, such as Etsy or EBay, that serve as a third party portal for thousands of small homegrown businesses that do not pay sales taxes, point to confusing tax rules that could expose them to costly audits for any revenue shortfall. However, Alaska and Montana allow individual individual cities to collect local sales taxes, according to the Tax Foundation.

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