Internet sales-tax ruling could have big effect in Florida

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The United States Supreme Court ruled Thursday that states may now require online retailers to collect state sales taxes.

But Nebraska won't be able to start collecting sales taxes from online retailers until next year at the earliest, after an Internet sales tax bill fell victim to a filibuster this year. Most other major online retailers have followed suit, simply because it's become cheaper for them to collect the tax and majority have a "physical presence" in much of the country anyway, as fulfillment centers are popping up everywhere. Gov. Charlie Baker hailed the ruling as "a good day for states, and it's a good day for those in the retail space who have been for many years disadvantaged because of the two-tiered system". The Supreme Court heard arguments in the case in April. Online sellers that haven't been charging sales tax on goods shipped to every state range from jewelry website Blue Nile to pet products site Chewy.com to clothing retailer L.L. Bean. Some people say shopping at a store has its advantages over online.

"Retailers have been adamant in seeking equity in taxation of bricks and mortar and online sales", Florida Retail Federation President & CEO R. Scott Shalley said in a statement.

The court was split 5-4-albeit not on conservative versus liberal leanings-regarding the decision.

"The Quill Court did not have before it the present realities of the interstate marketplace, where the Internet's prevalence and power have changed the dynamics of the national economy", Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the ruling.

According to the General Accountability Office, prohibitions against collecting sales taxes from online retailers cost states as much as $13.4 billion a year ago. Kennedy said that position was archaic, "unsound and incorrect" in the internet age.

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The ruling is sure to elate the state's small retailers.

"Attempts to apply the physical presence rule to online retail sales are proving unworkable". The state conceded in court, however, that it could only win by persuading the Supreme Court to do away with its physical presence rule. "Here in California, we already pay sales taxes on Amazon transactions".

IL consumers are supposed to pay use tax to the state if sales tax isn't charged on a purchase, but experts say underreporting is an issue. Heitkamp suggested that states follow South Dakota's lead and enact laws tailored not to target small businesses. Note that consumers who live in one of the five states without a sales tax...

Theoretically, the Wayfair decision could open up additional retail sellers to MA taxation.

The ruling is a victory for big chains with a presence in many states, since they usually collect sales tax on online purchases already.

The decision today opens the door for states to pass new legislation and begin collecting more sales taxes from online sellers. For others, it also included the added bonus of not having to pay sales tax from select merchants.

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