Remember folks, there is no rule of law, there is only rule of power. Bear that in mind as we look at a case in the Supreme Court that could give Rule of Law cover to the Federal government being able to expand its taxing territory to your online purchases.
Vox has covered this story as if there is an actual legal debate going on, one which the Supreme Court could neutrally settle. But the only thing that will be settled by the Supreme Court is the degree to which the agents of the state (in this case, the 9 black robes) believe that taking such further license on people will be a net gain or a net loss for the owners and managers of the coercive enterprise.
Go ahead and read this excerpt from the Vox article, and, if you are so inclined, click the link to read the whole article. Just keep bearing in mind that there is no rule of law, there is only rule of power.
The US Supreme Court on Friday said it will consider whether businesses have to collect sales taxes on online transactions — a case that will affect how consumers are charged for their purchases on major e-commerce sites such as Wayfair, Overstock, and Amazon. The case, South Dakota v. Wayfair, will revisit a 1992 decision, Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, in which the court ruled remote sellers would have to collect state sales taxes only if they had a physical presence in a state, like a warehouse or an office. The court based its ruling, in part, on the “dormant commerce clause,” a legal doctrine that prevents states from interfering with interstate commerce unless authorized by Congress. The Court’s decision came down before both Amazon (founded in 1994) and eBay (1995) had become a significant presence in American life.
There’s a lot of cash at stake. The Government Accountability Office estimates that state and local governments could have collected up to $13 billion more in 2017 had they been allowed to require sales tax payments from online sellers, as Bloomberg notes. All but five states — Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon — impose sales taxes, meaning South Dakota v. Wayfair is a national issue.
Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, the earlier ruling, predates much of what has become a booming e-commerce industry today. According to the US Census Bureau, in 2016 total e-commerce sales in the United States were estimated at $394.9 billion, which accounted for 8.1 percent of total retail sales. For some perspective: Fifteen years before, in 2001, total e-commerce sales were estimated to be $32.6 billion, which at the time made up about 1 percent of total sales. According to research firm eMarketer, Amazon represents 43.5 percent of all US retail e-commerce sales; eBay accounts for about 6.8 percent.