WBUR – Mass. Will Collect Sales Taxes On Online Purchases July 1 (If There’s Not A Legal Fight First)

WBUR – Mass. Will Collect Sales Taxes On Online Purchases July 1 (If There’s Not A Legal Fight First)

Steve DelBianco is on the shameless side. He leads NetChoice, a national trade association representing e-commerce and online businesses.

“Massachusetts has this unique theory of electronic presence,” DelBianco said. “But under that theory, your business is subject to the taxation [and] regulation in any state where a user simply enters your website address. That can’t hold up to legal scrutiny, ’cause it certainly doesn’t hold up to common sense.”

For DelBianco, the only option left is a legal challenge to fight the idea that a cookie on your computer is the same thing as a storefront on Newbury Street. He said his group has sued a number of other states for online sales tax laws and he’s looking at a legal fight in Massachusetts too.

“We’re researching the legal arguments and raising the funds to pursue a lawsuit right now,” DelBianco said. He said it’s “too soon to say when we’ll be ready.”

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Minnesotans Do Not Support Online Marketplace Tax Proposal, New Study from NetChoice and Americans for Tax Reform Finds

Minnesota state legislators’ push to impose unprecedented sales tax obligations on Internet marketplaces has little support from Minnesotans, according to a new poll jointly released by NetChoice and Americans for Tax Reform (ATR).

Only nine percent of Minnesotans think that the current online sales tax collection process needs to change. Yet, leaders of Minnesota’s legislative tax committees continue to promote legislation (HF4 and SF 2225) that would now require out-of-state businesses to collect online sales tax from Minnesotans. Read more

Repealing Colorado’s Tattletale Law: An Opportunity to Restore Coloradans’ Privacy

“Union and Constitution.” These words appear on the Great Seal of Colorado and celebrate the ideals enshrined in the Federal Constitution, including the rights of freedom of expression and privacy.

Sadly, in 2010, the Colorado legislature enacted a tax reporting law that assaults those rights. The aptly nicknamed Colorado “tattletale” law requires online and catalog businesses to report to the state Department of Revenue (DOR) Colorado shoppers’ purchases, including the name of the catalog or online store where the shopper made purchases; the shopper’s name and address; and the amount the shopper spent on products or services.

Thankfully the legislature soon will have the opportunity to restore Colorado residents’ privacy rights later this Spring with SB 17-238, which if passed would repeal the tattletale reporting provision. Read more

Accounting Today - The future of online sales tax: What if they fail to kill Quill?

Steve DelBianco, executive director at NetChoice, said there are three scenarios in a “keep Quill” landscape:

  • States will claim that Quill doesn’t apply to specific taxes, such as Ohio’s commercial activity tax and Washington’s gross receipts tax. In November 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court declined to extend Quill to the state’s business privilege tax. A petition requesting the high court’s review is expected in April.
  • States will continue to enact legislation that aren’t “kill Quill” laws, but are “creative extensions of nexus” to “withstand the physical presence” rule — such as affiliate, click-through and marketplace provider regimes. While those regimes recognize physical presence as the rule, they define physical presence as including a relationship with an in-state entity that has physical presence.
  • States will pursue “tattletale reporting tactics,” such as the Colorado and Louisiana laws that mandate non-collecting remote vendors to report consumers’ purchases to the state.

“Goodlatte’s bill confirms the physical presence standard with specificity, and then goes on to open the door to a multistate compact that allows home state enforcement on remote sales,” DelBianco said, adding that “the beauty of the congressional approach, of either Sensenbrenner or Goodlatte, is they in fact would stop the madness of all these state bills.”

DelBianco noted that Amazon’s business model has led to its expansion into more states to provide faster fulfillment. Likewise, competition over customer service and rapid shipping will encourage other retailers to expand their physical footprint, thus triggering collection obligations in more locations.

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Colorado should rethink its tattletale tax reporting law

There is a lot of talk in the state Legislature these days about taxes — from tax hikes on marijuana and new taxes for improved transportation to reduced taxes on business personal property and even eliminating taxes on some personal hygiene products.

However, lawmakers may want to add one more tax-related issue to this robust debate — a re-examination of rules that would make the Department of Revenue privy to the personal online shopping habits of Coloradans.

Six years ago, state lawmakers addressed the internet sales tax issue through legislation. It was a fatally flawed law, aimed at increasing collection of sales and use taxes for purchases made online or through catalogs. Lurking in that bill was a dangerous intrusion into the private lives of Colorado citizens.

Read More at the Colorado Statesman

Hoosier Internet sales tax bill is ill advised

The U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedent protect Indiana’s businesses from the scourge of Chicago and New York tax collectors.

Today, Indiana businesses, whether selling online, over the phone or via catalog, only must collect sales taxes for purchases to Indiana consumers. The businesses only must file taxes with the Indiana tax collectors and face audits from Indiana auditors.

As a result, Indiana’s main street businesses, such as Burton’s Maple Syrup in Medora, easily can use the Internet to reach customers across the country.

But it appears some lawmakers in Indianapolis are prepared to upend these protections and expose Indiana businesses to tax collectors from across the country.

Read more at Northwest Indiana Times 

Op-ed: We now collect enough internet sales taxes to cut the tax rate

By Jonathan Johnson, Chairman of the Board of Overstock.com

Utah’s Gov. Gary Herbert and other internet tax proponents proclaim Utah’s uncollected e-commerce sales tax has reached $200 million a year. It’s a large number. And it’s largely wrong.

Supposedly, the shortfall results from out-of-state e-commerce retailers not collecting Utah sales taxes. But is $200 million the number right? It doesn’t seem to add up.

Here’s a back-of-the-envelope calculation of all 2016 e-commerce sales taxes due in Utah:

• The 2016 total U.S. retail e-commerce is $392 billion (estimates from Internet Retailer and eMarketer).

• Utah’s e-commerce visit share is 0.84 percent, based on the assumption e-commerce sales are proportionate to visits (Source: Hitwise and Connexity); coincidentally, that figure approximates Utah’s population proportion of about 0.9 percent.

• The average Utah sales tax rate is 6.53 percent (https://www.salestaxhandbook.com/utah).

• Therefore, Utah’s total e-commerce sales tax due — collected or not — would be $215 million: ($392 billion x .0084) x 0.0653 = $215 million.

If this calculation is correct, then either Utah is not collecting more than 90 percent of its e-commerce sales taxes, or the governor’s $200 million figure is wrong

READ MORE at Salt Lake Tribune

State Tax Notes Names NetChoice as Organization of the Year

This week State Tax Notes named NetChoice and NCSL as “Organizations of the Year.”

In a world in which federal and state officials are debating ways to regulate and tax online commerce, NetChoice is at the forefront of the loyal opposition.

State Tax Notes recognizes NetChoice for its role in fighting proposals that fly in the face of its goal of “promoting convenience, choice and commerce on the net.

In the state remote sales tax arena, NetChoice moved quickly to sue South Dakota even before S.B. 106, the state’s remote sales tax bill, took effect May 1. On April 29 NetChoice joined the American Catalog Mailers Association to sue the state on the basis that S.B. 106 is facially unconstitutional.

NetChoice has been a consistent presence on the remote sales tax issue. It has fought diligently against efforts to pass legislation such as the Marketplace Fairness Act, a proposed federal law that would allow states to require remote sellers to collect and remit sales tax. Read more

The Lame Duck Is No Time to Cripple Internet Commerce

Online and catalog retailers around the country have made it clear to Congress that a radical remote sales tax mandate would cause severe hardships for their businesses and consumers across the United States.

As we enter the “lame duck,” the post-election session of this Congress, we are likely to see an effort to pass the Marketplace Fairness Act, even though this bill has not been on the floor of the House or Senate and has never even had a committee hearing. Our leaders in Congress should resist any effort to move MFA in the lame duck or attach it to must-pass legislation.

READ MORE at Morning Consult