This morning the Supreme Court overruled over fifty years of precedent and held that a state can hold an out-of-state seller responsible for collecting sales taxes.  See South Dakota v. Wayfair (https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/17-494_j4el.pdf).

In National Bellas Hess, Inc. v. Department of Revenue of Illinois, 386 U.S. 753 (1967) and Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298 (1992), the Supreme Court had held that an out-of-state seller could not be held responsible for collecting sales taxes unless the seller had a physical presence in the state.  As a consequence, buyers from mail order houses, and more recently e-commerce merchants, have been able to avoid paying state sales taxes on their purchases.

Today’s decision is not likely to have a huge impact on Maryland consumers.  Amazon and many other large online retailers have a presence in the state and already collect Maryland sales taxes on sales made to Marylanders.  However, the decision has the potential to impact sellers who now will have to collect and remit sales taxes to multiple states.

The South Dakota statute that was before the Supreme Court in Wayfair only applied to sellers who delivered more than $100,000 worth of goods or services into South Dakota or engaged in 200 or more separate transactions on an annual basis.  The Supreme Court left the door open for a future challenge to collecting and remitting sales taxes by an out-of-state seller with de minimis sales.