Next Story

The Left reacts to DACA and other issues of the day

South Dakota ruling may boost Georgia online tax push


A state Supreme Court ruling Thursday in South Dakota may prove a boost to Georgia’s efforts to get all retailers to collect sales taxes when they sell products online.

South Dakota officials were hoping for a quick ruling in their state Supreme Court on legislation requiring internet companies to remit sales taxes. The bill was passed as a legal challenge to a 25-year-old U.S. Supreme Court decision that forbids states from requiring retailers without a physical presence in the state to collect sales taxes.

The South Dakota court ruled against the state law Thursday, setting up an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Advocates for in-store retailers say the decision opens the door for the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider its earlier ruling, which predated modern e-commerce.

Officials in many states have been looking to the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider the issue.

That includes lawmakers in Georgia, where the state House this year passed legislation that would force online retailers with at least $250,000 or 200 sales a year in the state to either collect and remit sales taxes on purchases or send “tax due” notices each year to customers who spend at least $500 on their site.

Copies of the notices would go to the state Department of Revenue so it would know who owes at least some of the taxes. The proposal stalled in the Georgia Senate. Legislation has a two-year shelf life in Georgia, so it remains alive for the 2018 session.

“This is not a new tax, it is a mechanism to collect an existing tax,” state House Ways and Means Chairman Jay Powell, R-Camilla, said when he was pushing the bill earlier this year. “The tax is already owed.”

Some online retailers, such as Amazon.com, agreed to collect sales taxes after some prodding by the state.

If the General Assembly passes a bill during the 2018 session and the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of South Dakota’s measure, it could mean big money for state and local governments.

A state fiscal analysis suggested collecting those taxes could mean an extra $274 million in revenue for the state and $200 million for local governments. The combined figure could hit $621 million by 2022.

Owners of retail stores — who have a lot of political clout at the Capitol — have long said they are handicapped by the fact that they have to charge state and local sales taxes on what their customers buy while many online businesses don’t. But online retail trade groups say the Georgia proposal raises privacy concerns if retailers have to report sales they make to the Department of Revenue.


Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Georgia Politics

Georgia resets rules on voter challenges after a town got it wrong
Georgia resets rules on voter challenges after a town got it wrong

A recent string of problems over how local officials challenged the registration of Georgia voters can be summed up in the curt, one-page letter that arrived mid-July at Jennifer Hill’s home near Savannah. Even though she had lived there for three years, the tiny town of Thunderbolt wanted Hill to prove her residency because her name did...
Lawmakers begin talks about how to replace Georgia’s aging vote system
Lawmakers begin talks about how to replace Georgia’s aging vote system

A handful of lawmakers began the discussion Friday about what it might take to move Georgia to a new election system, an important but incremental step toward replacing the state’s aging voting machines. The meeting of the state House Science and Technology Committee represents a start. Any decision will likely take a few years and, depending...
Graham-Cassidy obscures deadlines for other key actions on health care
Graham-Cassidy obscures deadlines for other key actions on health care

Nearly one hundred and fifty million dollars to keep Georgia hospitals’ indigent care afloat. Funding for the PeachCare program that along with Medicaid covers about half of Georgia’s kids. Clear answers on Obamacare subsidies that Blue Cross said it needed to keep selling individual plans in metro Atlanta. Those are some things that Congress...
Georgia ethics panel to begin auditing candidates in governor’s race
Georgia ethics panel to begin auditing candidates in governor’s race

After years of mainly investigating issues raised by Georgians, the state’s ethics watchdog agency plans to aggressively audit campaign filings from all the major statewide races coming up. Stefan Ritter, the executive secretary of the ethics commission, said that while some details still have to be worked out, the agency will be auditing the...
From the Right, the advice for Trump is to try diplomacy
From the Right, the advice for Trump is to try diplomacy

A roundup of editorials Friday looks at the idea that kicking North Korea out of the UN would go a long way toward helping the current situation, and that having President Donald Trump negotiate instead of threaten would be the best move to make.  Here are some opinions from the Right. From The Wall Street Journal: If the world community is serious...
More Stories