On April 25, 2019, the Governor of California approved Assembly Bill No. 147, which sets the economic nexus threshold at $500,000 in sales or deliveries to California, cumulative over 12 months. This will come as some relief to many out-of-state retailers affected by last year's U.S. Supreme Court case, South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., the case that overturned the long-standing principle set in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota requiring physical presence for a retailer to be subject to state sales and use taxes.
Help may be coming for retailers concerned with the abrupt change in the law last year that may require many retailers to begin collecting tax on sales to customers in a state regardless of whether the retailer has a physical presence in the state. In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court's holding in Wayfair v. South Dakota allowed states to require remote retailers to collect taxes and fees on sales in their state if the seller was deemed to have an economic nexus with the state, regardless of any physical presence. On January 9, 2019, relief legislation was announced, known as the "Protecting Business from Burdensome Compliance Cost Act," which would delay the imposition of new laws to January 1, 2020, and would require states to streamline the tax rate and submission requirements. Click here to read about HR 379.
The California Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) released a fiscal outlook report recently that indicates California will soon be implementing changes to sales and use tax collection for out-of-state businesses in the wake of the June 2018 Wayfair decision. "The administration plans to start registering out-of-state taxpayers soon," the LAO wrote, and anticipates increases to state revenue from related changes starting around $100 million or more in the next couple years. To read the full report, click here.
Back in June, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. that reversed Quill's requirement for physical presence to establish sales tax nexus for out-of-state businesses. Individual states are now hurrying to decide upon economic or transactional thresholds to govern who should be collecting and paying over sales tax concerning primarily e-commerce sales.
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled today that states may now require online retailers to collect sales taxes from consumers, regardless of where the business is located or the product is delivered. In 1992, the same court ruled that a business had to have some kind of "physical presence" or "nexus" in order to be required to collect sales tax in a state. With the increased use of online shopping, however, it turns out not all taxpayers report non-taxed purchases to the states in which they reside. In fact, an estimated $33.9 billion goes uncollected in sales taxes each year, costing states a significant sum. Additionally, internet shopping tax-free has hurt the brick-and-mortar stores that already have higher operational costs due to a physical presence in a state, since they must collect sales tax on taxable transactions.
Californians will be able to vote on two new legislative measures related to taxes on the June 5, 2018 Statewide Direct Primary Election ballot.
South Dakota is taking the physical presence rule back to our nation's highest court in its dispute with Wayfair, Inc., to determine whether it may continue to require out-of-state sellers such as online retailers to register with the state and collect and pay over sales tax. In the seminal case from 1992, Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that retailers did not have to collect sales tax in any state where they have no physical presence. However, the exponential growth of eCommerce and internet sales has significantly changed the retail landscape since that time.
If Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goolatte (R-VA) get their way, it will. On June 12, 2016, Sensenbrenner and Goolatte introduced the "No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017" which would expand the "physical presence" requirement of a similar 2016 House Bill (H.R. 5893) to all taxes and to all regulations in general.
As of January 1st, your dollar will go a little further as California reduces its sales tax rate by 0.25%. Actual sales tax rates vary by county and city. To look up the current sales tax rate where you live, click here.
The temporary statewide sales and use tax increase approved through California's Proposition 30 expires on December 31, 2016. Effective January 1, 2017, the state sales and use tax rate in California will decrease by 0.25% to the new rate of 7.25%. The California State Board of Equalization notes, however, that in many cities and counties the total tax rate will be higher due to local voter-approved district taxes.