News • 03.07.2018

WayFair decision a win for retailers

SCOTUS ruling acknowledges unforeseeable change in commerce since Quill and Bellas Hess

Money; Copyright: panthermedia.net/vitma1978
Source: panthermedia.net/vitma1978

The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), the trade association for America's largest and most innovative retailers, released a statement celebrating today's decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, a case that focused on a decades-old loophole that allowed online-only retailers to skirt collecting and remitting state sales tax. RILA and its sister organization, the Retail Litigation Center (RLC), worked on a years-long strategy to support the case in South Dakota and build a robust amicus strategy at both the cert and meritstages of the case. 

"Today's decision culminates years of tireless work by the retail community to reverse a pre-Internet era rule that distorts free markets and puts local brick and mortar stores at a competitive disadvantage with their online-only counterparts," said Deborah White, General Counsel for the Retail Industry Leaders Association and President of the Retail Litigation Center. "This was the right case and the right time for the Court to act, and we couldn't be more pleased with the outcome."

Addressing the suggestion that new collection requirements would be a burden to start-ups and small online retailers, White pointed to the dramatic changes in network computing and e-commerce in the last quarter century. 

"The Court clearly didn't buy the argument made by the Respondents in this case that remote sales tax compliance represented the same burden today that it did in 1992," said White. "Through its decision, the Court has acknowledged that the same computing sophistication that has fueled exponential growth in e-commerce has also dramatically simplified remote sales tax collection."

Given the Court's ruling, White expects the forty-five states with a sales tax to work expeditiously on legislative and regulatory solutions to close the online loophole in their states. 

"States had this authority taken from them decades ago," said White. "Most will work quickly and judiciously to reclaim their authority and create a level playing field for all retailers selling to customers in their states." 

On the impact of the decision for the retail industry and its customers, White said today's decision would ultimately be a win for both. 

"Today's ruling will give every retailer the opportunity to compete on a level playing field without government's thumb on the scale—that's a win for all those who believe in free markets," said White. "For the consumer, this means an increasing array of options both in-store and online, with competition for their business based on price, service, selection and value—not special tax treatment."

Source: Retail Industry Leaders Association

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