IN officials react to Supreme Court's online sales tax decision

Supreme Court closes online sales tax loophole

Over on NBC News, they are reporting that the US Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 that states can now force retailers to collect sales tax on online sales regardless of where the business is located.

The U.S. Supreme Court has announced their decision on the S. Dakota v. Wayfair case, overturning the long-standing rule that states could not tax businesses or sellers outside of that state's borders. As of 2015, states and localities collected $1.6 trillion in taxes, so closing the online sales tax loophole would be enough to boost that by about one-half of one percent.

The decision allows states to require out-of-state businesses to collect sales tax from customers in other states - for example, a retailer in Utah who sells goods to a customer in NY would have to calculate and collect the NY sales tax.

In 2016, Gov. Bill Haslam proposed a rule that would require out-of-state businesses that make sales in excess of $500,000 in Tennessee to begin collecting and paying sales tax, but ultimately, that rule was put on the back burner in anticipation of the Supreme Court ruling. It may be hard and costly for Kadlubeck to comply as many states will demand that online sellers in other states collect sales tax from buyers in their states.

The General Accountability Office estimates that states could have taken in $13.4 billion more in revenues previous year with an online sales tax.

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While this ruling is beneficial to state governments, it stands to have a negative impact on retailers and consumers alike.

States also still must announce dates by which retailers must be in compliance, says Scott Peterson, a vice president at Avalara, a manufacturer of tax collection software. "It's taxes and regulation all combined in one unfortunate tax", says Raymond Keating, chief economist with the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.

Second, Hawaii is not a member of the Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement and can not be a member unless its laws are amended significantly.

"With our state's growing economy, I don't want to reach into West Virginians' pockets when we don't need to", Justice said.

"As to who will have to collect, once that case is decided, it seems their economic nexus definition, or what we are now referring to as a de minimus threshold for interstate commerce, which is any retailer with more than 200 transactions or $100,000 of sales into South Dakota over the trailing 12 months".

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It remains to be seen if online shoppers will abandon their virtual carts because of a sales tax.

"What this really does is it provides some fairness and equality to your local merchants". When you create a way for people to avoid the tax, you distort their behavior (pushing them to buy online when they might otherwise buy in a store) and you reduce tax collections.

Georgia state officials have been pushing for more internet retailers to pay taxes in recent years. "It's vital we continue getting that and that we continue getting growth, not just stagnant collections each year", Jennings said at the time. He estimates his practice loses more than $75,000 in sales annually to online stores.

"We've been trying to phase out the sales tax on food so this gives us an opportunity to work on different parts of Tennessee's overall tax structure".

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