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The Courts Businesses Government The Almighty Buck

Supreme Court Declines Case On Making Online Retailers Collect Sales Taxes 293

thomst writes "Robert Barnes of the Washington Post reports that the US Supreme Court has declined to hear petitions from and requesting that a decision by the New York State Supreme Court permitting that state's 2008 law requiring sales taxes be collected on Internet sales, even if the seller has no 'business presence' in New York. The New York Court of Appeals ruled that Amazon's relationship with third-party affiliates in the state that receive commissions for sending Web traffic its way satisfied the 'substantial nexus' necessary to force the company to collect taxes, and New York's Supreme Court had affirmed the ruling. The Federal high court's refusal to hear the petitions leaves the state law in effect, even though it appears to conflict with the Court's 1993 decision in Quill v. North Dakota."
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Supreme Court Declines Case On Making Online Retailers Collect Sales Taxes

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  • Mistake (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 02, 2013 @03:21PM (#45577485)

    There seems to be a mistake with which court ruled and which court affirmed.
    The New York Court of Appeals is their highest court; the New York Supreme Court is its "appeals court." Hence, the NY district court ruled, NYSC then affirmed, whereby the high court (NY Court of Appeals) then affirmed once again. Counter-intuitive, I know; but that's the way it is.

  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Monday December 02, 2013 @03:23PM (#45577497)

    that's what the NY court ruled, the quill test is satisfied and there is no conflict

    i can buy from lots of websites in NY that won't collect sales tax because they don't have any affiliates here

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lbmouse ( 473316 )

      I'm torn a bit torn on this... if the are paid by 1099-misc then they are private contractors. If they are paid by W2, then they are a true "employed" sales force. I guess I don't know where the substantial nexus line is drawn.

      • by alen ( 225700 )

        even if its 1099's, they are a business agreement to sell amazon products in that state

  • Haven't heard much about MFA since it passed the Senate. Studies I've read say it's a non-starter for the majority of constituents. That means it's going to take some extra palm greasing by corporations. Congressmen don't act against the will of people for cheap!
  • Get Ready... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BlueStrat ( 756137 ) on Monday December 02, 2013 @03:34PM (#45577621)

    Get ready for and

    At least, if I were in charge at or, I'd be looking to move the business out of the USA. As a bonus (outside of avoiding overly-burdensome US tax/regulation bureaucracy and costs), they could offer any US copyrighted work for sale from Antigua without any consideration for US copyright holders.


    • by jythie ( 914043 )
      Well, that is the current dream of many.. find ways to have all the benefits of operating in the US without paying for it. Taxes are something that it is in one's best interest to have other people paying.
      • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Monday December 02, 2013 @05:12PM (#45578687)

        Well, that is the current dream of many.. find ways to have all the benefits of operating in the US without paying for it. Taxes are something that it is in one's best interest to have other people paying.

        I don't mind paying taxes, and wouldn't mind paying a standard VAT to sell anywhere in the US. But the local US sales tax laws are a complete clusterfuck. When I'm selling books [] in various locations, I have to dig up the tax rate for that location It's a hassle, but doable, but some states are really fucked up.

        New York is one of them.

        Sales tax varies depending on which county, in some cases which city or which part of the city you're in. Tax rates coded to zip codes don't work...some zipcodes span localities with wildly varying sales tax rates. I'lliinois is better, but still, rates vary depending on whether you're in Chicago proper, one of the suburbs, or one of the localities downstate.

        Multiply this complexity by 50 states and you begin to realize what a complete clusterfuck it is for any small online buisiness to try and cope with. Shipping a package to Bumblefuck, Nebraska? What's the sales tax? How about Buttfuck, New York? Good luck.

        Impose a national VAT of x percent, and kick back some or all of it to the states, and ban local sales taxes of any kind. This needs to be vastly simplified. Even if it were 50 states and 50 different sales tax rates that would be doable, but with many dozens of different sales tax venues with varying rates in New York alone, and plenty of states like Illiinois with a few cities that impose their own surtax to the state rate, figuring this crap out is a nightmare on the best of days. If every state is allowed to impose its taxes on all online folks, only the big players like Amazon will be able to cope. The rest of us, and most new startups, will crumble under the burden.

    • Re:Get Ready... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Monday December 02, 2013 @03:53PM (#45577805)

      At least, if I were in charge at or, I'd be looking to move the business out of the USA

      And when your HDMI cable hit the US border you can enjoy paying any duties, taxes & customs brokerage fees that apply to a shipment from Antigua.

    • So your prediction is that in order to avoid paying sales taxes, Amazon is going to start paying far larger excise taxes and customs fees instead?

      • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
        I've never been hit with a customs or excise fee for an Alibaba purchase. So why wouldn't Amazon leave the US for the same preferential treatment?
    • I am looking forward to the Customs and Border Patrol's reactions to Amazon's fleet of drones flying packages in from Antigua.

      Need to buy a house near the coast and some defense stocks, the fireworks will be awesome!!

    • by xaxa ( 988988 )

      Wouldn't they be charged import taxes? is^H^Hwas in Jersey, one of the small islands between Great Britain and France. It's a "Crown Dependency" of the UK, roughly comparable to the US Virgin Isles. It's not part of the EU. There was a loophole, where low-value items imported into the UK weren't charged VAT. Jersey is also considered part of the UK for postal prices, so the postage cost was the same for a business there as in, say, Manchester.

      That led to and others selling DVDs and CDs

  • We are the fucking supreme court. We don't have to wait our turn in the restaurant, and we certainly don't have to give a reason for our arbitrary decisions. Not even the decision not to decide. There is nobody who can touch us, bitch.

    Impeachment? BWAHAHAHAHA!

    • Yes, because it's feasible and desirable for the Supreme Court to spend time issuing a detailed rejection of cert for every one of the more than 8000 cases (~99% of the total submitted) where they deny cert.
  • I'm a Washington resident so I'm in the statistical minority that do pay tax on Amazon's goods. The ruling doesn't help those who live in the place where the business is located, understandably, only those who do not -- and in the case of Amazon, since the source can be anywhere, that list of "nots" is rather subjective or narrow in light of 'substantial nexus'.

If all the world's economists were laid end to end, we wouldn't reach a conclusion. -- William Baumol