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Supreme Court to Consider Texas Redistricting Case

Supreme Court to Consider Texas Redistricting Case

The Supreme Court agreed Friday to reconsider one of the most contentious issues in the business world: whether online retailers must collect sales taxes.

The Supreme Court will probably hear arguments in the case in April.

The Supreme Court weighed in first in 1967, ruling that states can not force "catalog" retailers to collect sales taxes in states where they are not physically present. Consumers who purchase from out-of-state retailers are generally supposed to pay the state taxes themselves, but few do. The Government Accountability Office estimated in November that requiring "remote sellers" to collect sales taxes would produce a lesser amount of $8 billion to $13 billion.

States have enacted a variety of laws in hope of collecting more sales taxes, particularly when in-state businesses are used as conduits.

Various trade groups and 35 states had urged the high court to take up South Dakota's appeal.

"Retail is a dynamic industry that's rapidly transforming".

"Unfortunately, antiquated sales tax collection rules have resulted in an uneven playing field that's making it harder for Main Street retailers to compete in today's digital economy".

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In 2016, South Dakota lawmakers passed a law requiring out-of-state sellers like Overstock.com and Wayfair to collect and turn over sales tax to the state. Amazon once relied on the Quill ruling and didn't collect sales tax at all; the company gradually changed its position as it built warehouses all over the country, giving it a greater physical presence in multiple states.

"These taxes fund education, public safety and the innumerable services that state governments provide", said Deb Peters, a Republican South Dakota state senator involved in the issue.

No additional districts will be drawn while the Supreme Court mulls the state's appeal. Now, the Supreme Court will determine whether Texas' maps can stand.

"A case questionable even when decided, Quill now harms states to a degree far greater than could have been anticipated earlier", Kennedy wrote. But the case does affect other online retailers including Overstock.com, home goods company Wayfair and electronics retailer Newegg, who are part of the case the Supreme Court accepted. For those items, the company says it's up to the sellers to collect any taxes, and many don't.

Heeding calls from traditional retailers and dozens of states, the justices said they'll hear South Dakota's contention that the 1992 ruling is obsolete in the e-commerce era and should be overturned.

The Supreme Court first adopted its physical presence rule on sales tax collection in a case dealing with catalog retailers in 1967, a year that states pointed out in their brief was "two years before the moon landing and decades before" the first online retail transaction. Online marketplace eBay Inc, which exclusively sells products via third-party vendors, allows for sales tax to be calculated based on the address of the purchaser, for example.

The court is likely to decide the case by the end of June, when its current term ends.


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