A Supreme Court Ruling Could Make Your Online Purchases More Expensive

The east facade of the Supreme Court of the United States

The east facade of the Supreme Court of the United States

Stocks of online retailers were down significantly immediately following the ruling. But in recent years, several Supreme Court justices suggested the moment was ripe to review the 1992 decision, prompting South Dakota to pass a law forcing online stores to collect a 4.5% sales tax if sales and employee count hit a certain threshold.

That's resulted in states losing millions of dollars in sales taxes every year and online retailers gaining a decades-long tax advantage against their brick-and-mortar peers.

Many internet retailers had leaned on the Quill decision to avoid paying sales tax in states where they didn't have a physical presence. Prior to the ruling, if you lived in NY and bought a TV from a retailer like Newegg - which has no physical stores in NY state - you wouldn't have to pay sales tax on your purchase. Forty-five of the 50 states have sales taxes.

Amazon, Wayfair, eBay, Etsy, and Overstock.com all fell in morning trading, with Wayfair at one point down by 8%.

Hearst told 22News major online retailers like Amazon do collect a sales tax, but most of their sales are from third party sellers. "It is unfair and unjust to those competitors, both local and out of state, who must remit the tax; to the consumers who pay the tax; and to the states that seek fair enforcement of the sales tax". IN supported the legal challenge led by South Dakota.

"It's just not feasible for us to do business with South Dakota while also complying with these new rules", said founder and CEO Vladimir Gendelman in a statement. He argued, "Any adjustment to those rules with the potential to disrupt the development of such a critical segment of the economy should be undertaken by Congress".

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The Supreme Court agreed to overturn those decisions in a 5-4 ruling. Heitkamp suggested that states follow South Dakota's lead and enact laws tailored not to target small businesses.

In giving a victory to the states, the high court said that rule is outdated.

Two popular companies named in the Supreme Court decision - home-goods retailer Overstock.com and electronics merchant Newegg.com - now collect no NY sales tax because they have no physical offices here. In South Dakota alone, a state with a population of less than 1 million people, The Department of Revenue estimates that the state government could take in up to $58 million annually. Congress could also intervene to set a nationwide standard.

But using the compliance services won't be without complications, says Jamie Yesnowitz, an accountant specializing in state and local taxes with the firm Grant Thornton.

This court decision will create a fairer playing field for retailers and make it easier for governments to continue financing themselves effectively through sales tax. He suggests retailers consult with their accountants to determine the states where they should be in compliance.

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