A Supreme Court Ruling Could Make Your Online Purchases More Expensive
A Supreme Court Ruling Could Make Your Online Purchases More Expensive
Supreme Court rules states can collect sales tax from internet retailers in historic e-commerce case
25 June, 2018, 06:58
The decision overturned two decades-old Supreme Court decisions that allowed companies without a physical presence in a state to avoid collecting sales tax. Shares of Etsy Inc and eBay Inc, which provide platforms for small retailers to sell their wares, were off 2.4 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively. To be compliant with the Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement, a State must administer one tax rate.
The decision allows states to require out-of-state businesses to collect sales tax from customers in other states - for example, a retailer in Utah who sells goods to a customer in NY would have to calculate and collect the NY sales tax.
Assistant Majority Leader Rep. David Hawk, who also serves on the House Finance, Ways & Means Committee, said he is confident that rule will be revisited during the next Tennessee General Assembly session. They pay property tax.
The Trump administration had urged the justices to side with South Dakota. The Government Accountability Office estimated that state and local governments could have collected between $8 billion and $13 billion in sales taxes in 2017 "if states were given authority to require sales tax collection from all remote sellers".
Previously, companies without a physical presence in a state were exempt from sales tax collection requirements. Online furniture retailer Wayfair, along with Overstock.com, and online electronics retailer Newegg sued to block the law and won in lower court. The stock was last off 0.8 percent and was among the biggest drags on the benchmark S&P 500 stock index. In 1992, Amazon had not yet begun selling books out of Jeff Bezos' garage.
For some, online shopping was a way to buy things without needing to drive to a brick and mortar store to make the purchase.
The law specifically protects small businesses from collecting sales taxes if they have less than $100,000 in sales or fewer than 200 transactions in the state.
"U.S. consumers are extremely savvy, and there will always be competition for the consumer".
Kennedy also wrote that the concerns of small retailers, who do minimal online sales, could be dealt with by Congress or by a further court case.
But using the compliance services won't be without complications, says Jamie Yesnowitz, an accountant specializing in state and local taxes with the firm Grant Thornton.
The decision in South Dakota vs. Wayfair is a victory for states who argued they were losing out on billions of dollars each year. "Statutes of this sort are likely to embroil courts in technical and arbitrary disputes about what counts as physical presence", Justice Anthony Kennedy said in the opinion.
The CEO of Jeffers said that the software required for this new law is not cheap. Chris Cox, a lawyer for e-commerce industry group NetChoice, claimed that small businesses would be most affected: "Consumers will quickly feel the negative effects as those businesses dry up or are forced into the arms of Internet giants". The Supreme Court sided with South Dakota 5-4, overturning a previous ruling, Quill Corporation v. North Dakota - was "flawed on its own terms" and was especially problematic due to the rise of internet retail. "Now our members are going to be able to figure out how to construct their businesses without worrying about whether putting a distribution center on this side of a state line or that side of the state line will result in a different tax implication". Because of dramatic fall-offs in state sales taxes, the state in 2016 enacted a law to test the physical presence rule.
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