Sales tax invasion: Retailers drafted as tax collecters


In April 2017, Amazon began collecting sales tax nationwide in the 45 states with sales tax, reports The Verge.

The court ruled 5-4 in South Dakota v. Wayfair, noting that a previous ruling in 1992 had caused states to lose annual tax revenues of up to $33 billion.

Traditionally, industries with physical presences had to charge sales taxes by that state's laws.

Brick-and-mortar specialty outdoor retailers have been at a competitive disadvantage against internet sellers who do not always collect sales tax.

That's the retailer's problem, not yours unless you're an affected online retailer, or work for one or if you purchase that retailer's goods due to their low prices. "IL residents are already obligated to pay a Use Tax on out-of-state purchases and this prudent decision will allow states the ability to enforce Use Tax laws that are already in existence", revenue department spokesman Terry Horstman said in an email.

IL already requires consumers to self-report sales taxes for online sales. Although Act 41 was patterned after the South Dakota law, there are differences that sellers could focus on to question the law's validity. Why should it be any different if someone from another state buys online from a South Dakota seller rather than buying in person?

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"It's not as easy as pushing a button", because businesses will need to make decisions about where they're going to collect tax, Yesnowitz says. Betty Lou Kranz initially anxious about being able to stay in business if she had to track tax rates in hundreds of jurisdictions where her Port Jervis, New York-based company, The Pretzel Princess, sells candy and snacks. Therefore, it is critical for buyers and sellers of software products and services, especially products and services transferred electronically, accessed remotely or acquired for incorporation into a subsequent end-user product or service, to be aware of the tax pitfalls and to carefully document their products and services in contracts, statements of work and advertising and marketing materials. According to WalletHub, Washington ranks 33rd among states in terms of tax burden, making it hard to argue that residents are oppressively taxed. The court noted that the law had three features created to prevent discrimination against or undue burdens upon interstate commerce: it had a safe harbor for those transacting limited business in the state, it was not retroactive and the state was a member of the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, which has been adopted by more than 20 states to standardize taxes to reduce administrative and compliance costs. That decision had shielded retailers from tax-collection duties if they didn't have a physical presence in a state.

Kennedy didn't directly decide whether states could try to collect taxes retroactively, but he said the issue wasn't a reason to keep the physical-presence rule. In dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts said Congress should be making this decision, not the courts.

‘We welcome the additional clarity provided by the Courts decision today.

"This simplifies life for retailers and for consumers and it levels the playing field for retailers and their internet competitors", Karr said. Sales taxes change all the time but the Supreme Court decision is likely to produce a massive wave of changes affecting nearly all jurisdictions.

The Court held that a physical presence was no longer necessary to satisfy the substantial nexus requirement, casting its prior holding in Quill as "flawed on its own terms" and the physical presence rule as "artificial in its entirety".

The Trump administration backed South Dakota in the case, urging that Quill be overturned or at least limited to catalog sales.