Multi-State – Two States Generate Internet Sales Tax Cases Aimed at Supreme Court

The Council of State Governments
by Lisa Soronen, executive director of the State and Local Legal Center

In March 2015, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion for Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl stating that the “legal system should find an appropriate case for this Court to re-examine Quill.” Two lawsuits out of South Dakota and Alabama might be exactly the case Kennedy had in mind.
In Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, decided in 1992, the Supreme Court held that states could not require retailers without an in-state physical presence to collect sales taxes. Kennedy criticized Quill in Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl for many of the same reasons the State and Local Legal Center stated in its amicus brief.
Specifically, internet sales have risen astronomically since 1992 and states are unable to collect most taxes due on sales from out-of-state vendors. Congress could overturn the Quill decision but has repeatedly decided not to do so.

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