Shares of online retailers fell following the ruling, which opened the door to a new revenue stream to fill state coffers - up to $13 billion annually, according to a federal report. This ruling signals how much the internet has matured. Amazon was down almost two percent, although Amazon may be one of the least-affected retailers.
Unsurprisingly, consumer rights advocates aren't especially pleased with the ruling. The Retailers Association of MA called the ruling a big win for businesses.
And the court didn't say whether states could retroactively seek sales taxes.
Amazon has already been charging sales tax in 45 states.
MA began requiring companies that conducted at least $500,000 in online sales in MA or had 100 or more transactions to collect and pay sales tax. That won't necessarily be the case at Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, which already collects sales tax in every state that has such a tax.
That's what eBay has long advocated.
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Roberts, in dissent, said e-commerce has exploded in the United States in part because there have been uniform rules.
South Dakota's suit stemmed from a law requiring sales taxes for any out-of-state seller that delivers more than $100,000 worth of goods. Some states have a base sales tax set at 2.9% while others have set theirs as high as 7.25% and even 10.5%.
The Supreme Court handed down a ruling Thursday granting states broad authority to require online retailers to collect sales tax on purchases in states where they have no physical presence - a potential win for struggling brick-and-mortar stores. So it passed a law requiring all but the smallest retailers, including Internet companies, to collect taxes on the sales they make in the state, even if they had no physical presence there. But in recent years, several Supreme Court justices suggested the moment was ripe to review the 1992 decision, prompting South Dakota to pass a law forcing online stores to collect a 4.5% sales tax if sales and employee count hit a certain threshold.
"Any adjustment to those rules with the potential to disrupt the development of such a critical segment of the economy should be undertaken by Congress", Roberts wrote.
Somewhere along the line, Amazon got so big that it now has what could be called a "physical presence" (in the form of fulfillment centers) in almost every state, and so it chose to start charging sales tax in every state that levied one. Avalara helps companies around the world comply with sales tax laws using automation software.