New York State county governments are thrilled over the Thursday ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court to allow for the collection of sales taxes on all merchandise sold over the internet and believe it will bring prosperity to its citizens.
In New York State, tacking on sales tax to all orders made from New York would require action from state lawmakers. With the annual session ending last Wednesday, without any special session, these counties will have to wait until next session when they could hope for the state legislature to take up the issue.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruling could also pump billions of dollars into state treasuries across the nation while driving up the overall cost for consumers for some goods, The Niagara Gazette reports.
The justices, in a 5-4 ruling, overturned earlier decisions that protected some sellers from collecting sales tax from consumers in states where the retailer has no physical presence.
In New York, an expansion of the sales tax on internet transactions could create $160 million for the state treasury annually. The county governments could receive $160 million, money which would be split among towns, villages, and cities, but all of those places will have to wait because of state legislature inaction, like with expanded sports betting that a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling opened the door for the state legislature to act on, though it did not do so.
“Because of the failure of our legislature to act, we lost a whole year of revenue for the state and local governments,” said Stephen Acquario, director of the New York State Association of Counties.
Despite a lobbying blitz by county treasurers at the statehouse in March, the measure was kept out of the final state spending plan by Senate Republicans who said they wanted to spare New Yorkers from any new taxes, The Niagara Gazette reports.
One group backing the once-highly unpopular internet sales tax includes Retail Council of New York, which represents the owners of bricks and mortar stores who have always been subjected to sales taxes despite their internet competition not having to pay those taxes.
Ted Potrikus the council’s president, said that sometimes shoppers have visited appliance stores to get advice or to examine a product in person, but that person will go home and buy the product online to evade sales tax.
The court’s decision, Potrikus told CNHI, “recognizes that the world is a much different place” since internet retailers began competing for customers.
The majority decision was penned by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who opined that it was “unjust and unfair” to the competitors of remote sellers to have sales tax go uncollected.
Critics of the ruling argued it will create problems for smaller retailers who sell merchandise on such sites as Etsy.com because they will have to ensure they remit the proper sales tax to taxing jurisdictions that number in the thousands, The Niagara Gazette reports.
In Albany, state Department of Taxation and Finance spokesman James Gazzale, said the decision is being reviewed by officials at his agency.
Acquario said counties rely on sales tax revenue to pay for many services, according to The Niagara Gazette. He also noted the tax has become increasingly vital for county leaders who are facing state-imposed caps on raising revenue.