Boston Business Journal – Retail group warns of lawsuits against Baker online sales tax
The administration’s unique legal theory is “too clever by half,” Steve DelBianco, the executive director of the trade group NetChoice, said in an email Tuesday.
“The Supreme Court said that out-of-state sellers who mailed ‘an avalanche’ of catalogs into North Dakota could not be forced to pay the state’s sales tax,” he said of the 1992 decision. “So how in the world can Massachusetts deny that this ruling applies to e-retailers, who merely post a website that may be requested by Massachusetts consumers?”
DelBianco expressed hope that “state lawmakers will realize this DOR directive is headed in the wrong direction, by inviting lawsuits while bringing in no new tax revenue.” The administration has projected the tax will bring in $30 million a year in additional revenue.
The reference to litigation is likely no idle threat on the part of NetChoice. The organization has brought lawsuits in South Dakota and Tennessee against similar taxes implemented by those states in recent years. South Dakota was forced to file lawsuits against three major retailers, including Boston-based Wayfair, after they did not register with the state to collect sales taxes.
Asked if NetChoice was prepared to sue Massachusetts, DelBianco indicated that if that group did not, someone else could. “Too soon to say whether we would be the ones to sue Massachusetts,” he said. “We have lawsuits in progress already in South Dakota and Tennessee, and there are plenty of potential plaintiffs to go around.”