Online Purchase Sales Tax Fight Heads to SCOTUS

Gov. Phil Murphy

Large retailers such as Apple, Macy's, Target and Walmart, which have a physical presence nationwide, generally collect sales tax from customers who buy from them online.

It does seem fair, because as it now stands, certain retailers have an unfair advantage over others. It's an issue that brick-and-mortar retailers insist will provide a level playing field with online competitors, and help to provide state and local governments with the tax revenue they deserve.

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. 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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The Trump administration will join the oral argument in favor of online retailers being required to collect sales taxes everywhere.

Additionally, independent businesses on websites like Etsy and Ebay would be included in a rewritten sales tax law, as well as third party merchants that operate in Amazon's global marketplace, which totaled almost two-thirds of the company's gross merchandise volume at $313.4 billion. But other online sellers, from 1-800 Contacts to home goods site Wayfair, can often sidestep charging the tax. 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.

Initially meant to regulate catalog-based sellers, the ruling has been challenged again and again by states seeking to claim their fair shake of online sales. Amazon collects sales tax on its own products, but not on other businesses' products that are sold through its website. "Now it might be something else that is going to take them back a step".

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