“I think that gets to the root of what we’re saying,” NetChoice Executive Director Steve DelBianco told reporters April 27. He said a state imposing rates, rules and audits “needs to be a regime where I have a physical presence allowing me to have some say in my state government and in my regulations.”
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.”
The Department of Revenue and Plaintiffs, American Catalog Mailers Association and NetChoice jointly requested the court’s order to limit uncertainty in the marketplace while the case is pending.
During an April event co-hosted by Bloomberg BNA and Reed Smith LLP, NetChoice Executive Director Steve DelBianco characterized the New York effort as “Batman Returns,” with Cuomo attempting to jam through the bill.
“But the Justice League prevailed,” he said.
Some legislators in Colorado are also raising privacy concerns, vocalized by retail groups like NetChoice Inc., arguing consumers might not like it that information about their online purchases—including total amounts spent, shipping addresses and billing addresses—is forwarded to the state.
There is no end in sight for legal challenges to state government efforts to tax remote sales. The latest involves a lawsuit that Bloomberg made available online, filed by NetChoice and the American Catalog Mailers Association.
Under that change, the state would be “educating instead of penalizing consumers,” Amy Stephens, principal in the public policy and regulation practice at Dentons in Denver, told Bloomberg BNA April 17. Stephens is a lobbyist representing NetChoice, a prime advocate of the bill to remove the reporting requirement.
We addressed that case most recently last month, at which time we also noted that a NetChoice executive criticized Colorado’s sales tax notice and reporting requirements, which were challenged but ultimately upheld in Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl, as “tattle-tale.”
“You are going to unleash a crimson tide of federal legislation by overturning Quill,” Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice, a coalition of e-commerce companies and trade groups, said. “Overturning Quill unleashes the states to pursue no simplification whatsoever and to send auditors to every corner of the country.”