Latest US Supreme Court decision could hit SC wallets. Here's how


Shares of online retailers fell sharply following the ruling, with Wayfair down 3.8 percent, Overstock off 2.1 percent and Etsy Inc. shares off 4.4 percent. But a landmark ruling means purchasing goods from the internet is likely to become more expensive in the US. Cases in point: Amazon is now among the world's most valuable companies, and its CEO, Jeff Bezos, is the richest person in the world.

For those who tend to patronize the biggest retailers, the ruling may not make much of a difference.

For example, Amazon collect sales tax on sales from its own inventory and on a portion of sales by third-party merchants who use its platform.

"If you are buying a lot of furniture that you are having delivered to your house from a pretty big seller, you are going to start paying taxes", said Stephanie Martz, senior VP and general counsel at the National Retail Federation.

The ruling will hit small businesses the hardest, but they may not be felt right away.

Governor Pete Ricketts reacted to the ruling. This has resulted in billions of dollars of lost sales taxes every year, and given online retailers an advantage over their brick-and-mortar counterparts.

"I imagine most states will adjust their laws", Joseph Bishop-Henchman, executive VP at Tax Foundation, told CNNMoney. The ruling should also eliminate the need for the kind of workarounds that MA regulators have recently devised to snare more online vendors, such as arguing that Internet "cookies" constituted a physical presence, a policy Kennedy cited as he dispensed with the physical-presence test.

That's what eBay has long advocated.

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Other internet companies opposed the law, saying the thousands of variances in local and state tax laws create an accounting nightmare for business owners.

No matter the number, the boost is important as e-commerce sales soar throughout the country.

In a 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court has overturned decades-old rules that limited which transactions could be charged state sales taxes.

States were eager to collect the estimated $13.4 billion in annual revenue they could potentially glean from charging online sales taxes.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the previous decisions were flawed. He was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch. Any change to rules with the potential to disrupt such a critical segment of the economy should be left to Congress, Roberts said.

South Dakota, which passed a law in 2016 taxing out-of-state online retailers, asked the court to overturn its earlier decision, an appeal supported by more than 40 states and the Trump administration.

But NetChoice, a trade association for e-commerce firms, warned small businesses would have trouble complying with the different tax requirements in each state.

They also said it was a problem that was shrinking rather than expanding.


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