Supreme Court decision on sales tax could see local impact
Jun 23, 2018, 04:15
The Supreme Court case arises from a decision by South Dakota to change its law to require all e-commerce sites to collect the sales tax, regardless of whether they have a physical presence. The United States Supreme Court ruled Thursday that states may now require online retailers to collect state sales taxes.
"The Internet's prevalence and power have changed the dynamics of the national economy", he wrote.
For most large online retailers (including Amazon - the country's largest), the decision will have little impact, since they've been voluntarily paying state sales taxes for years. The decisions made it more hard for states to collect sales tax on certain online purchases, and more than 40 states had asked the high court for action.
Since Amazon has a local presence in most states, in fact, it has been collecting sales taxes for customers located in the 45 states that actually collect them since April 2017. For example, the popular electronics seller B&H only charges sales tax in NY and New Jersey, where it has a physical presence.
Amazon, by far the nation's largest online seller, is not a party to the case, since it now has a physical presence in many states, with warehouses, and pays the taxes.
The decision also effectively acknowledged the profound shifts in the American retail landscape. Representatives of the state argued that the rule needed to be reconsidered in the age of online shopping.
Hufstetler was instrumental in crafting legislation that drops the top tax rate to 5.75 percent, from 6 percent, next year and schedules a decrease to 5.5 percent in 2020.
"The decision leaves e-commerce and especially small sellers extremely vulnerable to states gluttonous for tax revenue particularly from consumers and businesses with no representation in their state", said Tom Giovanetti, president of the Institute for Policy Innovation.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. disagreed in his dissent. They added that the lack of sales tax was leading to "significant revenue losses", especially in states where a lack of income tax didn't give them many alternatives. That older case prevented states from collecting a sales tax from retailers without a physical presence in their state.
The Georgia General Assembly enacted the state law this year, in anticipation of the Supreme Court's decision. Sen.
"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", he wrote. This has resulted in billions of dollars of lost sales taxes every year, and given online retailers an advantage over their brick-and-mortar counterparts. After the Supreme Court's decision was announced, shares in Wayfair and Overstock both fell, with Wayfair down more than 3 percent and Overstock down more than 2 percent. They can either voluntarily collect a "use tax" from the customer, which is equal to the sales tax, and send it to the state; or they could notify the Washington Department of Revenue of the buyer so the state can try to collect it.
The Supreme Court review of the Wayfair Inc. case ignited debate and posturing previous year.
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Chief Justice John Roberts offered the dissenting opinion , along with Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor. States would have to adopt laws such as South Dakota's first, which was the subject of the Supreme Court ruling (PDF).
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