Retail websites could soon be ordered to collect sales taxes on all merchandise sold.
South Dakota wants the justices to overturn a 1992 Supreme Court decision that means individual states can not require retailers to collect state sales taxes unless the businesses have a "physical presence" in the state.
This current rule, which allows companies to sell goods to a state without collecting sales tax, goes back to a court ruling dealing with mail order catalogs.
Q: Why is the Supreme Court taking up this issue now? "Under the Constitution, this is a domain where Congress alone has the power of regulation and control".
MA is among 45 states that impose a sales tax for online purchases.
The Trump administration, meanwhile, urged the justices to side with South Dakota.
How did the case get to the Supreme Court? States generally require residents who weren't charged sales tax on a purchase to pay it themselves, often through self-reporting on their income tax returns. Some companies, like Amazon, do add sales tax sending the money to Alabama. This rule was based in part on the notion that if the catalog company in ME had no "physical presence" in California, it did not use the states roads and resources, and had no obligation to support it. Historically, and considered in the context of mail-order retailers who shipped goods from out-of-state to in-state consumers, the answer was a firm "no". Predictably, the law was struck down as unconstitutional based on the Quill decision. North Dakota in 1992.
The state is likely missing out on millions of dollars of taxable revenue. In a separate concurring opinion in Direct Mktg.
It's unclear how the justices might align on the question this time. The Supreme Court is expected to issue their decision on the internet sales tax case in June.
South Dakota then promptly filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a determination of the statute's validity.
The case the court is hearing has to do with a law passed by South Dakota in 2016, a law created to challenge the Supreme Court's physical presence rule.
The Supreme Court granted certiorari to re-examine Quill.
The Court has to decide whether its decades old ruling in a case involving a catalog retailer should still apply in the age of the internet.
Why is this case important? Clicking "checkout" on an online purchase could cost more after a Supreme Court case being argued April 17.
"Just like technology has changed how we shop, the way that retail happens, it has changed the era of sales tax collections", said Alabama Retail Association spokesperson Melissa Warnke.
The nine judges of the highest court in the land heard a one-hour argument which saw South Dakota against several ecommerce businesses led by Wayfair about whether online venues should collect state taxes. But states have found that few people comply.
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