Amazon.com Inc. is taking its tax fight to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the justices to block a demand from New York authorities that it collect a sales tax on goods sold in that state.
The online retail giant hired Theodore B. Olson, former solicitor general of the U.S., to represent the company in its petition to have the case reviewed by the court.
The filing seeks to persuade the court to consider the constitutionality of states collecting taxes from companies that don’t have such physical operations such as warehouses in those states. The company has long relied on a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that gave retailers a pass on having to collect sales in states where they don’t have a physical presence. Retailers with physical locations have lobbied for years to get online retailers to collect taxes on sales, arguing that the 1992 ruling gave online competitors an unfair advantage.
New York was among the first states to try to get Amazon and other online retailers to collect taxes. The state argued that a referral program the company runs, called Amazon Associates, gives the company a presence in New York. That program offers bounties to website operators for sales of Amazon products they generate through links on their pages. The company has thousands of associates in New York. With some states, Amazon has negotiated deals to collect taxes, often in exchange for tax incentives to build operations in those states. In other states, Amazon has terminated the associates programs in order to avoid tax collection.The Seattle Times