Thursday, March 08, 2018

White House wades into SCOTUS online sales tax case

From the Wall Street Journal:

The Trump administration on Monday urged the Supreme Court to expand states’ authority to collect sales tax on internet transactions, joining a chorus of state officials seeking to overrule a 1992 precedent exempting many online retailers from having to add taxes to a consumer’s final price.

In 1992, the justices “did not and could not anticipate the development of modern e-commerce,” Solicitor General Noel Francisco wrote in a friend-of the-court brief. “In light of internet retailers’ pervasive and continuous virtual presence in the states where their websites are accessible, the states have ample authority to require those retailers to collect state sales taxes owed by their customers.”

South Dakota is leading a charge to overrule 1992 case, Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, with arguments scheduled next month. Some 35 states and the District of Columbia, as well as organizations representing retailers from booksellers to shopping malls, have filed briefs supporting South Dakota’s position. Catalog mailers and online retailers have opposed the state, arguing that it is too burdensome for many businesses to comply with 50 or more separate state taxing regimes.

The 1992 case held that constitutional provisions assigning Congress authority over interstate commerce prohibited states from requiring out-of-state retailers to collect sales taxes without congressional assent. While consumers remain obligated to pay sales tax, few know of this duty and fewer still voluntarily comply, robbing state treasuries of billions of dollars, officials say.

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