Big Bucks At Stake In SCOTUS Sales Tax Case

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On Tuesday the Supreme Court is hearing arguments whether to overturn its 1992 decision when it hears a new case focused on online purchases, South Dakota vs. Wayfair.

The case specifically involves Wayfair Inc., Overstock.com Inc., and Newegg Inc., who were sued by South Dakota for not charging taxes to consumers within the state. States say they're losing out in billions of dollars in tax revenue.

New Hampshire is one of the states that has no sales tax.

Instead, online companies-including Amazon and Overstock-said they support a nationwide law that addresses internet sales taxes that would relieve retailers from dealing with a patchwork of state measures.

A reversal could mean that all online retailers must collect sales tax everywhere.

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.

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President Donald Trump has argued Amazon doesn't collect sales taxes; even though the company does.

Retailers that have brick-and-mortar stores and are already collecting taxes are backing South Dakota. "A retailer today can transact a significant amount of business in a state without ever being physically present in the state".

"Win or lose at the Supreme Court, we will continue to advocate for a legislative solution and a level playing field where all retailers collect and remit sales tax on the same basis", Wayfair spokeswoman Jane Carpenter said in a statement.

"Things have changed a lot since 1992. 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.

"[It] provides the many small businesses that use the internet with a very clear and simple and stable legal environment in which to grow their business", according to Brian Bieron, eBay's senior director of government relations.

Is such a law, somewhat unknown, nearly (or perhaps completely) unenforced, and overwhelmingly ignored, included in "dina d'malchusa dina"? Amazon collects sales tax on its own products, but not on other businesses' products that are sold through its website.

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