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Big Bucks At Stake In SCOTUS Sales Tax Case

17 April 2018

Big retailers like Amazon and Walmart collect sales tax on all online sales in the 45 states with a statewide sales tax.

It does seem fair, because as it now stands, certain retailers have an unfair advantage over others.

Chances are good you already do, even though the law requires online retailers to collect the tax only in states where they have a physical presence. However, the vast majority of purchasers do not pay tax on these transactions (98-99%), and it's likely that many aren't even aware of this law.

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While Harlingen has consistently posted positive numbers over the past two years, strong showings again by McAllen and Brownsville indicate retail sales in those cities seem to be rebounding after a long slump. "The entire nature of interstate commerce has changed", says Stephanie Martz, general counsel of the National Retail Federation, which has members such as Walmart Inc., Target Corp., and Amazon. Rather, the types of businesses in question include major ecommerce-only businesses like Wayfair, Newegg (#16 on our Top 101 Consumer Electronics Retailers list), and Overstock.com-all of which are cited in South Dakota's suit.

The sales tax allocations from the state are based on sales made in February by businesses which report tax monthly.

Online retailers said reversing the 1992 precedent is a negative move in terms of e-commerce. "These online companies have taken advantage of a bygone decision in order to evade the tax collection duties that their brick and mortar competitors perform every day".

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According to the Government Accountability Office, online marketplaces could have collected between $3.9 billion and $6.2 billion in state sales tax. The court will also rule whether states have the authority to tax all online purchases.

In the said case, South Dakota state attorneys asked the High Court to review if retailers can be required to collect state taxes in states where they lack physical presence.

A decision on the case by the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to be announced in June.

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Big Bucks At Stake In SCOTUS Sales Tax Case