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South Dakota Sales Tax Law May Head To U.S. Supreme Court

Source:  Argus Leader

In 2016, South Dakota passed a law requiring all companies (regardless of their physical presence) with over $100,000 in annual sales to customers in South Dakota, or with more than 200 transactions per year to customers in South Dakota, to charge and collect state sales taxes. The law directly conflicts with the 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Quill vs. North Dakota, which said retailers don’t have to collect sales taxes in any states where they don’t have a physical presence.

Now, South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled against the 2016 law and says the state may not force out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax. This paves the way for a possible appeal of the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, in a case that could have national implications.

An appeal of the South Dakota Supreme Court decision doesn’t guarantee the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case. The U.S. Supreme Court turns down the vast majority of cases that are appealed. However, it is believed that at least two current U.S. Supreme Court justices have signaled a possible willingness to review the famous 1992 Quill decision.

For years, states have argued that internet sales and software advances have revolutionized the retail environment, making it much easier for retailers to charge and collect state sales taxes. They say the “physical presence” standard established in the Quill ruling is out-of-date.

“The artificial price advantage created by the United States Supreme Court in Quill has done significant damage to thousands of brick and mortar retailers and has resulted in billions in lost revenue for state and local governments,” said Deborah White, President of the Retail Litigation Center for the Retail Industry Leaders Association. “By revisiting Quill, the Court can restore free market competition and return to the basic principles of federalism that allow states to handle issues of local taxation.”

Another option left open by the Quill decision is for the U.S. Congress to take action and create laws regarding out-of-state sales tax collections. However, even after decades of arguments from the states and the retail industry, Congress has failed to address the matter.

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