* It may be only a temporary reprieve…
By avoiding the fundamental constitutional question, last week’s Illinois Supreme Court 6-1 ruling against the state’s “Amazon tax” has left the controversial issue of Internet sales taxes up to Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court to sort things out once and for all.
In other words: Don’t expect those Internet marketers that fled the state when the law was enacted two years ago to be flocking back anytime soon.
The state’s highest court found Illinois’ Internet sales tax void and unenforceable because it conflicts with a federal law that temporarily blocked new state or federal taxes aimed at online retailers or Internet providers, the first court in the country to take that stance. But others say a conflict with federal law merely makes the state tax unenforceable.
For unstated reasons, the court did not address a lower court ruling that found the state tax in violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
* Courts usually try to keep their opinions narrow, so that may be why the Supremes acted the way they did. But the that federal law sunsets in a year. So, we end up right back where we started…
All of the justices sided with Burke except Justice Lloyd Karmeier, who wrote the dissenting opinions.
The court avoided the larger constitutional question of whether the tax is allowable under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Karmeier argued that this was a mistake because he said that the issues will likely end up in court again.
“A new commerce clause challenge is certain to follow. A year from now we could therefore find ourselves in precisely the same position we are in today, facing the same commerce clause challenge brought by and against the very same litigants. The delay will have accomplished nothing. The issue has been fully briefed and argued and is ripe for a decision now. We should make one,” he wrote
So, if Congress fails to act, there would be no controlling federal statute to prohibit the state law, so it could take effect again.