In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled today that states may now require online retailers to collect sales taxes from consumers, regardless of where the business is located or the product is delivered. In 1992, the same court ruled that a business had to have some kind of "physical presence" or "nexus" in order to be required to collect sales tax in a state. With the increased use of online shopping, however, it turns out not all taxpayers report non-taxed purchases to the states in which they reside. In fact, an estimated $33.9 billion goes uncollected in sales taxes each year, costing states a significant sum. Additionally, internet shopping tax-free has hurt the brick-and-mortar stores that already have higher operational costs due to a physical presence in a state, since they must collect sales tax on taxable transactions.
South Dakota is taking the physical presence rule back to our nation's highest court in its dispute with Wayfair, Inc., to determine whether it may continue to require out-of-state sellers such as online retailers to register with the state and collect and pay over sales tax. In the seminal case from 1992, Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that retailers did not have to collect sales tax in any state where they have no physical presence. However, the exponential growth of eCommerce and internet sales has significantly changed the retail landscape since that time.
If Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goolatte (R-VA) get their way, it will. On June 12, 2016, Sensenbrenner and Goolatte introduced the "No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017" which would expand the "physical presence" requirement of a similar 2016 House Bill (H.R. 5893) to all taxes and to all regulations in general.