Category Archives: online sales tax

South Carolina to Amazon: Collect Sales Tax Now

Side view of a piggy bank with the flag design of South Carolina.

How is South Carolina going after online sales tax? This article explains its latest approach.

States are continuing to come up with ways to collect sales tax from online sellers (specifically Amazon’s third-party sellers). South Carolina recently filed a motion in court to force Amazon to collect these taxes and fees on behalf of its third-party sellers.

As it is now, Amazon collects sales tax on items purchased directly from them, but the retail giant does not collect it on sales made on the site by a third party. South Carolina is claiming it could lose more than $500 million in sales tax if Amazon doesn’t begin collecting them now, and is asking the court to require the retailer to charge sales tax and put it into a trust or escrow-type account until the case is settled.

South Carolina’s Argument for Amazon Collecting Sales Tax

The state is most concerned with receiving the sales tax they’re owed. Someone owes it to them, and they’ve chosen to pursue Amazon for it (rather than numerous third-party sellers or the ultimate consumers). Continue reading

What is WA’s Marketplace Fairness? New Online Sales Tax Solution

Piggy bank with flag coating over it isolated on white - state of Washington

Did you hear about WA’s Marketplace Fairness?

For years, Washington State has been one of the states passing online sales tax legislation. From statutes expanding nexus (making more businesses responsible for the state’s taxes and fees) to its five-point internet sales tax solution, the Evergreen State is quick to come up with more solutions to make the marketplace “fair.”

The latest attempt to level the playing field makes some fairly aggressive changes in the state’s sales tax collection policy for marketplace facilitators.

While the state says it will make the marketplace more fair to brick and mortar retailers, we’d actually argue it’s a compliance burden and onerous on the seller. Why? The “solution” designates three additional definitions businesses will need to examine in order to determine how they apply if the definitions do apply, the business needs to pay close attention to another piece of legislation that may change again in the future.

An Overview: Marketplace Fairness

Here’s an overview of the new marketplace fairness solution.

Beginning in the New Year, “Certain marketplace facilitators, remote sellers, and referrers have new obligations related to the collection of sales or use taxes or the providing of notifications.” Continue reading

New in the Online Sales Tax Realm: States & 3rd Party Sellers

What does online sales tax have to do with third-party sellers? This blog post explains.

If you’ve purchased from Amazon lately, you may have noticed they’ve started charging sales tax. However, many third-party merchants that sell through the website haven’t been collecting it.

In fact, research shows that despite half of online sales happening through marketplaces (a number which is expected to grow to two-thirds within five years), these sellers don’t collect sales tax – even if the retailer they work through does (such as Amazon).

States’ Efforts: Collecting Sales Tax From Third Party Sellers

Come December 1, it’s expected the states involved in the amnesty program we’ve recently discussed will begin collecting sales tax from online merchants – including those that sell through a website like Amazon.

As the Seattle Times points out, this presents an important question: “Who will be responsible for collecting and remitting the taxes when someone buys something from a third-party seller on Amazon.com? Is that Amazon’s job or the merchant’s job, or some combination?” Continue reading

New: Online Sales Tax Bill Defeated in SD Supreme Court

Judge's supreme court gavel with law books

South Dakota’s online sales tax legislation could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court. Here are the details.

If you’ve been following the online sales tax debate on our blog, you know South Dakota recently passed, “Senate Bill 106, allowing the state to collect taxes from sales made from online retailers – even if they don’t have nexus within South Dakota itself.”

The 2016 law mandated a sales tax collection responsibility from sellers grossing over $100,000 in sales to South Dakota customers, or transactions numbering more than 200 in a year – even if the seller has no physical presence or other connection with the state. Then NetChoice and the American Catalog Mailers Association sued the state, claiming the law violates Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, a ruling which established businesses need a physical presence in the state to be responsible for sales tax and fees.

Online Sales Tax Bill Ruled Unconstitutional

Unsurprisingly, South Dakota’s Supreme Court ruled Senate Bill 106 to be unconstitutional. Supreme Court Justice Glenn Severson stated, “We see no distinction between the collection obligations invalidated in Quill and those imposed by Senate Bill 106…and hold that the circuit court correctly applied the law when it granted sellers’ motion for summary judgment.” Continue reading

New Online Sales Tax Legislation: Why Is It Interesting?

US Capitol Building

What’s the latest in the online sales tax debate? The No Regulation Without Representation Act. Read about it here.

As you know, we’ve been following the online sales tax debate for years. From the Marketplace Fairness Act to states taking matters into their own hands, it’s been interesting to follow as lawmakers debate how to handle imposing state sales tax on internet retailers. It’s especially difficult given the wide variety of taxes and fees that would need to be imposed at a state, county and city level.

New Online Sales Tax Bill: No Regulation Without Representation

The latest legislation coming from Washington DC is called the No Regulation Without Representation Act. Unlike previous bills, this one would actually remove the ability for states to collect online sales tax by essentially codifying the physical presence standard set in the US Supreme Court case Quill Corp v. North Dakota (1992). What would that mean for taxpayers? It would define physical presence (and that you have to have it in order for a state to impose its taxing scheme), as Quill did, and also likely create a de minimis threshold. The bill would essentially eliminate click through nexus standards and affiliate nexus rules currently being imposed by various states. Continue reading

Ohio’s New Online Sales Tax: Now Cookies Can Create Nexus?

Flag of Ohio sticking in a variety of American banknotes.

Is Ohio’s new approach to online sales tax justified?

What do cookies, nexus and online sales tax have to do with each other? States are continuing to look for ways to justify charging sales tax to internet retailers; Ohio just took a page out of Massachusetts’ book.

Massachusetts’ Online Sales Tax Directive 17-1

A couple of weeks ago we shared that Massachusetts created a directive that redefined nexus to include internet cookies, which meant that the state was recognizing these bits of computer code as a way to establish a physical presence, therefore making internet retailers responsible for collecting and remitting sales tax from online shoppers. Continue reading

What’s New in Massachusetts? An Online Sales Tax Update

Have you been following the latest online sales tax directives from Massachusetts?

A couple of weeks ago we summarized Massachusetts’ Directive 17-1, a new piece of online sales tax legislation that redefined physical presence to include downloaded apps and internet ‘cookies’ – the data websites store on users’ computers and phones to track visits. While Directive 17-2, which repealed the prior directive, was announced at the end of June, the original law redefining physical presence (or nexus) was so distinctive that we wanted to take a closer look at the rule.

Massachusetts’ Online Sales Tax Directive 17-1

What made this state’s approach to online sales tax so uncommon? Sylvia Dion, our colleague and a principal at PrietoDion Consulting Partners, provides a nice summary in a recent blog post for SalesTaxSupport.com. I’ve included a few of her key points below, but the reason so many opposed it (including trade groups) is that it redefines nexus, twisting established precedent to justify collecting sales tax from internet vendors.

It’s worth noting that, unlike other states that have enacted online sales tax legislation, Directive 17-1 was established as an administrative policy from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue rather than the state legislature. Also, because the directive clearly targets “internet vendors,” there is a strong argument that it could be discriminatory.

The most interesting part of this directive, however, is the detailed discussion and justification accompanying it, contorting previous precedent and state law to increase the number of online retailers responsible for charging customers for state sales tax. Continue reading

What You Need to Know About Massachusetts and Online Sales Tax

Side view of a piggy bank with the flag design of Massachusetts

How is Massachusetts approaching online sales tax? This post explains!

Over the last couple of months we’ve been taking a closer look at how various states are approaching the issue of online sales tax. Some states, like Washington and Nevada, have enacted “Amazon Laws” that make some retailers responsible for collecting and remitting state sales tax. Other states, such as Arizona, haven’t created new legislation directly about the issue yet and seem to be waiting to see how the debate is settled, either in Congress or through other states’ laws.

Today we look at a state that has been a little bit slower to enact online sales tax legislation, but is starting to make changes internet retailers need to know about: Massachusetts. Keep reading for the details. Continue reading

IT’S ALL GREEK TO ME!- US MULTISTATE TAX & FOREIGN COMPANIES

Santorini, Greece

I just returned from an amazing vacation – a cruise of the Mediterranean.  We started in Athens, Greece; spent just a couple days there enjoying the history, and then boarded our ship.  The cruise took us to the Greek isles of Santorini and Crete, and then we sailed to Italy, the beautiful St. Tropez, France, and finally Barcelona, Spain.  We finished our vacation by sampling many, many tapas and wines in Barcelona.  About midway through our vacation, I found myself wondering – how could I do US multistate tax consulting somewhere in Europe?  I’m still working on that angle, and will certainly keep you posted.

But meanwhile, on the flip side of that equation, we’ve been engaging with several foreign companies who have US operations and find our state tax laws to be, well, challenging!  As I tell all my foreign clients – trust me, they are challenging for US companies too!  Here are some of the main things for foreign companies to think about as they begin doing business in the US.

Continue reading

What You Need to Know about New York’s Online Sales Tax

Side view of a piggy bank with the flag design of New York.

How does New York approach online sales tax? This blog post explains.

Overall, the topic of collecting online sales tax is not as cut and dry as some would first assume, with ambiguous meanings and regulations, often confusing business owners. And hopefully, that’s where we come in to help!

In our series we have talked about multiple states, including Nevada, Washington and Colorado, and how each one handles the issue surrounding online sales tax for their state; up next in the lineup is New York.

A Summary of New York’s Online Sales Tax Law

New York was the first state in the country to enact a law for larger internet retailers (back in 2008). This law is referred to as the “Amazon Law,” based on the large internet retailer that used to have physical presence in very few states and therefore wasn’t required to collect sales tax. Amazon has now changed its business model and has worked with many states to collect sales tax. However, over the past several years, many states enacted “Amazon Laws” or “click through” statutes to get ahead of the company and internet retailers. New York was simply the first! Continue reading