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South Dakota v. Wayfair, inc.: Sales Tax Compliance into the United States

Are your US sales effected? Your Sales and Use Tax compliance obligations may be greatly impacted by a Supreme Court ruling on the horizon.

Online Tax Strategies−June 2018

We are eagerly awaiting a ruling that may reshape Sales and Use Tax compliance for Canadian businesses selling into the United States.

The present state of affairs

Presently, states cannot force a business to register for nor collect sales and use tax if the business has no physical presence in the state (for example: a place of business, inventory, equipment, sales staff, independent agents, contractors, technicians). States may provide for a minimum threshold of sales for registering; however, they may not force a business to register based solely on a business’ volume of sales if they do not have any physical presence.

These precedents were established long before the prominence of internet sales, when the closest equivalent was catalogue sales (see National Bellas Hess v. Department of Revenue, 386 U.S. 753 (1967), Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298 (1992))

However, recently states have been frustrated with the loss of tax revenue and have been challenging these precedents on the basis that they are outdated and were formulated at a time that does not square adequately with today’s economic reality.

In South Dakota v. Wayfair, inc., the Supreme Court of the United States will be in a position to change the rules, to allow states to require businesses to register based solely on the volume of sales.

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