The US Supreme Court’s Sales Tax Ruling

Online shopping may become more expensive after the U.S. Supreme court ruled on June 21, 2018 that states can require internet retailers to collect sales taxes.

The 5-4 decision broke with 50 years’ worth of legal rulings that barred states from imposing sales taxes on most purchases their residents make from out-of-state retailers.

**Online retailers were previously protected from paying sales tax if they had no physical presence in a state.**

“State and local governments have really been dealing with a nightmare scenario for several years now,” said Carl Davis, research director at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a Washington think tank. “This is going to allow state and local governments to improve their tax enforcement and to put local business on a more level playing field.”

This will mostly impact the other half of products sold online by third-party merchants on certain marketplaces like Wayfair, eBay, Etsy and Overstock just to name a few. They potentially face the added burden of collecting sales tax in states that begin taxing online sales.

The ruling would present a “compliance challenge” for internet start-ups. Independent merchants who simply post their inventory on online stores are responsible for calculating and paying the various state taxes if they are owed. In the past year, Washington State and Pennsylvania have enacted laws requiring internet retailers to collect taxes on third-party sales. More states are expected to follow suit.

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