Local reaction to SCOTUS online sales tax ruling

June 21, 2018 11:17 PM

Many of us chose to shop online, often for the bigger selection and savings. But the latest ruling from the Supreme Court of the United States may end up raising prices for us at checkout.

The SCOTUS ruling reversed a law that allowed online retailers to avoid paying sales tax if they don't have a physical presence in the state where the purchase was made. Now that all may change.

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"It's not a new tax at all,” President of the Retail Council of New York State Ted Potraikus said. “The sales tax has been around in New York State for decades. This is simply fair application."

The ruling paves the way for states to mandate sales tax collection from all online retailers.  Potraikus said if such a law was passed, it could be huge.

"In New York State just closing this one little loophole that we would like to see done now sooner than later, I think the estimate this year was $160 million to the state and $160 million to the local governments,” he said.

Some online retailers, like Amazon, already collect the tax on certain items, but sales tax is not collected from third party merchants using the site to sell their goods.

"What this takes away I think it's sort of the psychological benefit that the out-of-state merchants have had where I don't have to pay the sales tax, that's a big driver you don't think that it would be but it truly is,” Potraikus said.

Should all purchases include an 8 percent sales tax, shoppers may be heading back to brick and mortar stores.

"It certainly has added a whole other dimension to retail,” owner of Circles in Stuyvesant Plaza Sharon Fenno said. “It does, you work harder for every sale. I think you have to be more creative."

Fenno said she's already starting to see a change in trends.

"Over the last couple years I just get more and more that, even some of the younger people you know 20s, are starting to come in and they're starting to enjoy the shopping experience,” she said. “And that's really what you try to do now is make it an experience, make it a fun place to be."

Advocates have been trying to get a law passed that mandates sales tax colleciton on all online purchases for two years now. Potrikus hopes with the ruling will influence lawmakers next year.


Emily Burkhard

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