* Forwarded by a reader…
From: “Amazon Associates”
Sent: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 5:55:32 PM
Subject: Amazon Associates program is again open to residents of the State of Illinois
We’re pleased to announce that the Amazon Associates program is again open to residents of the State of Illinois.
We’re now able to re-open the program because the Illinois State Supreme Court recently struck down legislation that had forced Amazon to close the program to residents of Illinois.
Amazon strongly supports federal legislation like the Marketplace Fairness Act that’s now pending before Congress, which is the only constitutional way to resolve interstate sales tax collection issues.
Some background from October…
The Illinois Supreme Court threw out a state law Friday that taxes certain Internet sales, saying the so-called “Amazon tax” violated federal rules against “discriminatory taxes” on digital transactions.
The 6-1 ruling represented the first time a court had invalidated an Internet sales tax law among 18 states that have them. It brought an immediate cry from traditional, store-based retailers for Congress to step into regulating taxes on web sales.
The court determined that Illinois’ 2011 “Main Street Fairness Act” was superseded by the federal law, which prohibits imposing a tax on “electronic commerce” and obligates collection that’s not required of transactions by other means, such as print or television.
More background here.
* In other news, as you’ll recall the Illinois Supreme Court recently struck down the Department of Revenue’s sales tax collection rules. The ruling came in a case involving a fuel oil company which opened a satellite office in a low-tax county in order to avoid paying higher sales taxes to the RTA and Cook County. Tom Johnson, the President emeritus of the Taxpayers Federation, argues in Crain’s that new rules will be tough to devise…
The problem is for the many retailers that take orders over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet and then have the goods delivered to their customer from either their own or from a supplier’s inventory. The “sales” activities could occur in more than one community in Illinois or even in another state dependent on the facts of a particular sale. Which tax rate should apply, and what if the majority of the selling activity is out of state?
Our state’s tax collectors deserve rules they can follow and should not be subjected to second-guessing years after the fact. A case-by-case weighing of a near-limitless number of factors would fly in the face of good tax policy and be unworkable.
Tax must be calculated and collected at the time of the sale, but a nebulous factor-weighing test would require almost every retailer with more than one location in the state to engage in guesswork, putting them in a never-ending game of “gotcha.” When they collected too little tax, the state or local jurisdictions would sue; when they collected too much tax, class-action lawsuits on behalf of inadvertently overtaxed customers certainly would follow.
Now that this Pandora’s box of tax administration has been opened, it is the Department of Revenue’s job to help its partners comply easily. Guessing is not an option.