online sales tax

Mississippi pushes for right to tax internet sales.

Mississippi is the latest state to call for an online sales tax. Attorney General Jim Hood has asked the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to overturn Quill Corps. v. North Dakota, the 1992 decision that prevents states from taxing sales by out-of-state sellers lacking a substantial physical presence, or nexus, in the state.

Hood and ten other state attorneys general have filed an amicus curiae brief urging the court to hear the arguments in Brohl v. Direct Marketing Association, a Colorado case that would reconsider Quill (more on Colorado’s efforts to overturn Quill). Mississippi stands with Alabama, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Vermont to ask SCOTUS to grant Quill “the complete burial it justly deserves.” The friend-of-the-court brief calls the physical presence requirement outdated and discriminatory:

“The physical-presence requirement — adopted two years before the moon landing — is incompatible with a 21st Century, Internet-based economy. … Internet retailers’ ability to conduct trillions of dollars of business without collecting a sales and use tax also discriminates against local businesses and their customers. Quill thus undermines the foremost purpose of the dormant Commerce Clause — to prevent discrimination and unfair tax treatment. The time has come for the Court to overrule Quill.”

In a press release, the Mississippi A.G. expressed concerns that untaxed internet sales put local Mississippi merchants “at an unfortunate disadvantage” and jobs at risk; ongoing budget problems in Mississippi have cut government services and caused widespread layoffs, and online sales are expected to grow. Hood is therefore calling on the Legislature “to stand up for our local businesses” and join the growing number of states that have already adopted an internet sales tax.

Read the Brohl v. Direct Marketing Association amicus curiae brief here.

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