Online Sales Tax Collection, Constitutional Precedent, and Interstate Commerce: What You Need to Know

by Jonathan Williams & Joel Griffith


In an effort to enhance tax collections and force the United States Supreme Court to revisit its landmark Quill Corp v North Dakota decision of 1992, many states are aggressively targeting out-of-state businesses. Some state policymakers are looking to force businesses that simply sell products to their residents over the internet to collect sales taxes from the purchaser and remit these taxes to the jurisdictions where the customer is located. The Supreme Court held in the Quill decision that businesses lacking a “substantial nexus” or link to a state through a “physical presence,” cannot be forced to adhere to that state’s sales tax collection and remittance requirements. This substantial physical presence requirement references items such as facilities, plants, distribution centers, offices, property and employees. In short, remote sellers lacking a physical presence in a state may not be required to act as tax collection agents.