Question of sales tax on online purchases goes to high court

Intellectual Property

Online shoppers have gotten used to seeing that line on checkout screens before they click "purchase." But a case before the Supreme Court could change that.

At issue is a rule stemming from two, decades-old Supreme Court cases: If a business is shipping to a state where it doesn't have an office, warehouse or other physical presence, it doesn't have to collect the state's sales tax.

That means large retailers such as Apple, Macy's, Target and Walmart, which have brick-and-mortar stores nationwide, generally collect sales tax from customers who buy from them online. But other online sellers, from 1-800 Contacts to home goods site Wayfair, can often sidestep charging the tax.

More than 40 states are asking the Supreme Court to reconsider that rule in a case being argued Tuesday. They say they're losing out on "billions of dollars in tax revenue each year, requiring cuts to critical government programs" and that their losses compound as online shopping grows. But small businesses that sell online say the complexity and expense of collecting taxes nationwide could drive them out of business.

Large retailers want all businesses to "be playing by the same set of rules," said Deborah White, the president of the litigation arm of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represents more than 70 of America's largest retailers.

For years, the issue of whether out-of-state sellers should collect sales tax had to do mostly with one company: Amazon.com. The online giant is said to account for more than 40 percent of U.S. online retail sales. But as Amazon has grown, dotting the country with warehouses, it has had to charge sales tax in more and more places.

President Donald Trump has slammed the company, accusing it of paying "little or no taxes" to state and local governments. But since 2017, Amazon has been collecting sales tax in every state that charges it. Third-party sellers that use Amazon to sell products make their own tax collection decisions, however.

The case now before the Supreme Court could affect those third-party Amazon sellers and many other sellers that don't collect taxes in all states — sellers such as jewelry website Blue Nile, pet products site Chewy.com, clothing retailer L.L. Bean, electronics retailer Newegg and internet retailer Overstock.com. Sellers on eBay and Etsy, which provide platforms for smaller sellers, also don't collect sales tax nationwide.

States generally require consumers who weren't charged sales tax on a purchase to pay it themselves, often through self-reporting on their income tax returns. But states have found that only about 1 percent to 2 percent actually pay.

Related listings

  • Trademark, Patent & Intellectual Property Rights

    Trademark, Patent & Intellectual Property Rights

    Intellectual Property 09/10/2017

    Gambia Joins The Madrid Protocol! The Gambia’s recent accession to the Madrid Protocol, effective from 18th December, 2015, makes the smiling coast the 96th member of Madrid. The protocol is designed to simplify intellectual property registrati...

  • A Supreme Court pharma case deals consumers a big loss

    A Supreme Court pharma case deals consumers a big loss

    Intellectual Property 08/23/2017

    In the war being waged by large corporations against individual rights — and, yes, it is a war — a potentially decisive battle was recently fought. It will come as little surprise to any informed observer of American society that it was n...

  • U.S. high court ruling deals blow to patent trolls

    U.S. high court ruling deals blow to patent trolls

    Intellectual Property 07/10/2017

    The Supreme Court is making it easier for companies to defend themselves against patent infringement lawsuits.The justices ruled unanimously on Monday that such lawsuits can be filed only in states where defendants are incorporated. The issue is impo...

Illinois Work Injury Lawyers – Krol, Bongiorno & Given, LTD.

Accidents in the workplace are often caused by unsafe work conditions arising from ignoring safety rules, overlooking maintenance or other negligence of those in management. While we are one of the largest firms in Illinois dedicated solely to the representation of injured workers, we pride ourselves on the personal, one-on-one approach we deliver to each client.

Work accidents can cause serious injuries and sometimes permanent damage. Some extremely serious work injuries can permanently hinder a person’s ability to get around and continue their daily duties. Factors that affect one’s quality of life such as place of work, relationships with friends and family, and social standing can all be taken away quickly by a work injury. Although, you may not be able to recover all of your losses, you may be entitled to compensation as a result of your work injury. Krol, Bongiorno & Given, LTD. provides informed advocacy in all kinds of workers’ compensation claims, including:

• Injuries to the back and neck, including severe spinal cord injuries
• Serious head injuries
• Heart problems resulting from workplace activities
• Injuries to the knees, elbows, shoulders and other joints
• Injuries caused by repetitive movements

For Illinois Workers’ Compensation claims, you will ALWAYS cheat yourself if you do not hire an experienced attorney. When you hire Krol, Bongiorno & Given, Ltd, you will have someone to guide you through the process, and when it is time to settle, we will add value to your case IN EXCESS of our fee. In the last few years, employers and insurance carriers have sought to advance the argument that when you settle a case without an attorney, your already low settlement should be further reduced by 20% so that you do not get a “windfall.” Representing yourself in Illinois is a lose-lose proposition.

Business News

New York Adoption Lawyers Rosin Steinhagen Mendel is a law firm dedicated to serving our clients in New York City. >> read
Chicago Work Accident Lawyers at Krol, Bongiorno & Given have been a leader in the field of workers' compensation law. >> read