Wednesday, 25 April, 2018

Supreme Court To Rule On Sales Tax Of Online Purchases

Cedar Rapids Community School District buses at the Education Leadership Support Center in Cedar Rapids on Thursday Supreme Court Case on Sales Tax Rattles Merchants on Amazon
Velma Reese | 17 April, 2018, 01:21

But states have found that only about 1 percent to 2 percent actually pay.

Right now, billions of dollars in online sales skip state sales taxes thanks to a precedent set by a 1992 ruling. "A retailer today can transact a significant amount of business in a state without ever being physically present in the state".

For years, the issue of whether out-of-state sellers should collect sales tax had to do mostly with one company: Amazon.com. Some local communities have sales taxes in Alaska and Montana, but they are not levied statewide.

The companies also note that the largest internet retailer, Amazon.com, now pays sales taxes in all the 45 states that collect them.

The ruling won't have a direct impact in five other states - Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and OR - because they have no statewide sales tax. "And the more types of products I sell, the more hard it is to map to the software that's out there". But as Amazon has grown, dotting the country with warehouses, it has had to charge sales tax in more and more places.

South Dakota projects its revenue losses because of online sales that do not collect state taxes at around $50 million annually, while its opponents in the case estimate it as less than half that figure.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear South Dakota vs. Wayfair to determine whether to overturn that 26-year-old ruling.

The Supreme Court has never held that a sales or use tax can be imposed on a retailer who sells to a customer who lives in a state where the company has no physical presence.

The case now before the Supreme Court could affect those third-party Amazon sellers and many other sellers that don't collect taxes in all states - sellers such as jewelry website Blue Nile, pet products site Chewy.com, clothing retailer L.L. Bean, electronics retailer Newegg and internet retailer Overstock.com. The state enacted the measure with the explicit goal of overturning the 1992 Supreme Court ruling, known as Quill v. "The entire nature of interstate commerce has changed", Martz said.

Inflation dips to 2.47 per cent in March
It revised downwards forecast for retail inflation to 4.7-5.1 per cent for April-September and 4.4 per cent for October-March. Similarly, the protein-based food items such as eggs, meat and fish became cheaper by (-) 0.82 per cent during the month.

It's unclear how the justices might align on the question this time.

In 2017, an audit of the Federal Government Accountability Office indicated that states missed the opportunity to collect some $13.7 billion due to the Supreme Court law on state tax for online purchases.

South Dakota says the high court's previous decisions don't reflect today's world.

But the internet companies that sued to block the law - Wayfair, Overstock and Newegg - say in their Supreme Court filings that state sales tax systems "remain inordinately complex and burdensome during the internet era, just as they were before it began". The state has the backing of the Trump administration.

Initially meant to regulate catalog-based sellers, the ruling has been challenged again and again by states seeking to claim their fair shake of online sales. The online giant is said to account for more than 40 percent of US online retail sales. The Colorado-led group said most states have safeguards to prevent retroactive application, or at least require advance notice. The court reaffirmed that ruling in 1992.

In four other states where the case is expected to have less impact, sales tax revenue accounts for less than 20% of their overall tax revenue - Vermont (12%), NY (16.8%), Virginia (18.5%) and the District of Columbia (18.5%). Three current justices - Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy and Neil Gorsuch - have already expressed doubts about the precedent.

States generally require consumers who weren't charged sales tax on a purchase to pay it themselves, often through self-reporting on their income tax returns.

The case is South Dakota v. Wayfair, 17-494.

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