Saturday, 21 July, 2018

US Supreme Court ruling on sales taxes hurts smaller businesses

Supreme Court closes online sales tax loophole Utah’s governor hails Supreme Court ruling that lets states collect sales tax on your online purchases
Troy Mann | 24 June, 2018, 19:57

The 5-4 ruling Thursday is a win for states, who said they were losing out on billions of dollars annually under two decades-old Supreme Court decisions that impacted online sales tax collection.

President Donald Trump praised a Thursday Supreme Court ruling that could soon lead to online retailers having to collect state sales taxes in 45 states. It's been a long-running issue for Utah, which has claimed a loss of more than $200 million in sales tax revenue from online purchases by consumers.

If you enjoyed the illicit thrill of avoiding the 6.25 percent IL sales tax on internet purchases of running shoes or steaks, you'll mourn the court's opinion in South Dakota v. Wayfair. The ruling clears the way for states, including MA, to collect an estimated $13 billion or more in extra taxes every year.

Previous bills in the Utah State Legislature to require online retailers to collect sales taxes have failed under pushback from the public and taxpayer watchdog groups. The internet has changed retailing, and Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the new decision, said, "each year, the physical presence rule becomes further removed from economic reality". Get ready to pay a little more.

"The decision does not articulate much of a floor for what states may do, so it is possible that another state could pass a law with lower thresholds than the South Dakota law", says Hayes Holderness, a law professor at the University of Richmond.

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"So many of us who sell on platforms like Etsy are juggling all the time, families and businesses, or potential businesses along with day jobs", says von Braun, whose Etsy shop sells original artwork. He said the court should not be doing the work of Congress, even if its earlier precedents were wrongly decided. "Part of the biggest challenge for the sellers is to know in each particular state if its goods and services are subject to sales tax, because there's no uniform definition". South Dakota, and held that "physical presence" is not necessary before states can validly apply their taxing powers to businesses that have neither persons nor property in a state but nevertheless conduct substantial business in that State. Amazon.com and Overstock.com are among the companies that say they support a nationwide law that would relieve retailers from dealing with a patchwork of state tax laws. It sent the law back to South Dakota's highest court to be revisited.

"It's great to have an even playing field for business and not only that, but sales tax is really important to our communities and important to our state". She recalled Thursday that she started looking at this issue in 1992, when the Supreme Court in Quill v. Forty five of the 50 states impose sales taxes.

The problem the additional revenue creates, according to Washington County Commissioner Joe Grandy, is the way those online sales tax dollars are remitted back to local governments.

"I'll do what needs to be done and get it taken care of", said Dave "Lando" Landis, owner of Rocker Rags, a New Mexico-based online seller of clothing with photos and logos of rock musicians. Local tax attorneys are now weighing in to break down how this effects small businesses that sell products online, across the world.

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