The Supreme Court returned to the bench today to hear arguments and issue orders -- including a pair of orders denying review of the so-called "Amazon tax" dispute over whether online retailers must pay sales taxes to states where they have no phyiscal presence.
Without comment, the justices denied certiorari in cases brought by Amazon.com and Overstock.com challenging New York State's collection of sales taxes for sales made in that state. New York justifies its tax because the retailers have "affiliates" in that state who receive fees for promoting online sales. But David Frederick of Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, who represents Overstock, said the law "abrogates the physical-presence requirement" the Supreme Court established in the Quill Corp. v. North Dakota case in 1992.
New York, represented by its solicitor general Barbara Underwood, defended the tax in part as a way to "restore a level playing field between in-state brick-and-mortar stores and their out-of-state Internet-only counterparts."
The court's rejection of the cases means New York's tax can continue, along with levies of other states that have begun to tax Internet retailers. But the issue is not settled. Challenges are also pending in other states, and Congress is considering a federal approach. More later on Supreme Court Brief and at NLJ.com.