Are you a third-party seller? You may want to be aware of the latest from Massachusetts and Amazon.
As we wait for the courts to settle the online sales tax debate, states like Massachusetts are continuing to go after third-party resellers, specifically those that sell on Amazon, in an attempt to track down the sales tax revenue they’ve been missing.
In September, Massachusetts sued Amazon for data about its third-party sellers with inventory in the state. A judge ruled in Massachusetts’ favor and, finally, in late January Amazon notified its sellers they would turn over the information, including:
- Each marketplace seller’s contact information, including name, address, federal tax ID number, and phone number
- Estimated value of each marketplace seller’s inventory in Amazon’s Massachusetts fulfillment centers, based on the seller’s selling prices in late 2016 and 2017
United States Supreme Court.
The United States Supreme Court announced on January 12, that it has granted certiorari and will hear a case related to state taxes – something that does not happen often! The High Court could finally settle an ongoing battle between e-retailers and states about how online purchases are taxed, and in the process may overturn a 1992 ruling which currently prevents states from collecting sales taxes on online purchases unless the seller has a physical presence in the state. An overhaul of this nature would change the state tax landscape significantly and require more online sellers to collect sales tax.
Based on a long standing Supreme Court ruling from 1992 (Quill Corp. v. North Dakota), online retailers are not required to collect sales tax unless they have a physical presence (such as an office, inventory, or people) in a state. Over the past several years as online purchases have become prolific and states are losing sales tax revenue, the states have fought back by passing creative legislation to allow for collection of sales tax on online purchases. Several state legislatures have recently enacted laws referred to as “economic nexus” provisions, where a company creates nexus in a state by virtue of a minimum amount of sales revenue or instances of sales into a state, instead of looking to the physical presence threshold. Some states, like Colorado, have passed onerous reporting mechanisms to, in effect, report on their customers who may not be self-assessing use tax.
As 2017 comes to a close, we thought this would be a good time to reflect on the past year. There have been quite a few notable developments in the online sales tax realm and in multistate issues in general over the last 12 months. Here are 8 developments that we thought were of particular significance, which we’ve discussed on our blog in the past year.
1. Fascinating Ramifications of Colorado’s New Online Sales Tax
What are the ramifications of online sales tax in Colorado?
Colorado has been at the forefront of the internet sales tax debate since 2010, when it passed a law that required companies with more than $100,000 in sales that did not have nexus in the state to 1) alert Colorado customers that state sales or use tax is due and 2) file annual reports to the state, listing all the names, purchases and shipping addresses of Colorado customers.
After making its way to the courts and several rounds of negotiations between the state and taxpayers, the law went into effect on July 1, 2017. Find out why the U.S. Supreme Court chose not to hear the case and more in the full blog post.
2. Another Move Toward Economic Nexus
How are states like Indiana pushing economic nexus limits?
When businesses sell their products across state lines, they need to think about whether they have taxable presence, or nexus, in the state and if their products are taxable. In 2017, several states began pushing the boundaries of defining the physical presence in order to generate more revenue. Welcome to the concept of “economic nexus.”
Read more about this concept and how states such as Indiana are pushing limits through economic nexus in this blog post. Continue reading
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
Have you heard the latest online sales tax news coming out of Indiana?
Every time we turn around, it seems there’s a new development in the online sales tax debate. As states continue to get involved and look for new ways to bolster their revenue, the issue continues to grow larger and more complex. Now Indiana is looking to the courts to settle the matter.
Indiana’s Online Sales Tax Lawsuit
On August 29, IndyStar reported that Indiana’s Attorney General filed a lawsuit asking Marion Superior Court (in Indianapolis) to find the state’s online sales tax law constitutional. ” The law, which went into effect July 1, requires out-of-state businesses to collect and remit the same sales taxes as Indiana-based businesses.”
This isn’t the first lawsuit Indiana’s online sales tax law, House Enrolled Act 1129, has been involved in. American Catalog Mailers Association and NetChoice argued the legislation was unconstitutional back in June. Continue reading
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
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
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
How does Arizona approach online sales tax? This blog post explains!
Have you been following our series on how states are approaching the online sales tax debate? So far we’ve taken a look at Colorado, Alabama, Washington and Texas; today we look at Arizona! Keep reading to see how the Grand Canyon State is approaching the issue.
A Summary of Arizona’s Online Sales Tax Legislation
Unlike the other states we’ve covered so far, Arizona interprets the 1992 court case, Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, a little bit more directly. The precedent set forth established that companies need to have a physical presence in the state (or nexus) in order for the state to collect sales tax on a purchase.
While many states establish economic nexus through a variety of provisions, Arizona’s 2015 Tax Handbook clearly states that physical presence as defined by Quill is key. And, as Nolo.com points out, “According to the same section, a company with no physical presence in the state, but whose products are both available in independently-owned Arizona stores and directly from the company via the internet, is not responsible for collecting sales tax.” Continue reading
How is Alabama approaching online sales tax? This post explains.
A couple of weeks ago we started a series that looks at the ramifications of various online sales tax legislation states across the country are proposing and signing into law. We started with Colorado as they’ve been at the forefront of the debate since 2010. Today we take a look at Alabama!
Alabama has been making waves in the state tax world because it passed legislation in 2015 that requires an out-of-state seller making retail sales within the state to register, and collect and remit sales tax on these sales by virtue of “economic nexus” if the seller has sales of more than $250,000 within Alabama, and engages in certain limited activities in the state. However, it does not require substantial physical presence as required in the 1992 Supreme Court decision (Quill). With the passage of these laws, Alabama drafted legislation that is unconstitutional and effectively challenging taxpayers to take the issue to court (or is challenging the federal government to finally enact some of the bills which have been circulating in Congress but have not passed). Whether that’s “simplified” or not is a question, but read on for a summary of the latest activities in the state. Continue reading