Kill Quill, Keep the Dormant Commerce Clause: History's Lessons on Congressional Control of State Taxation
7 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2018
Date Written: January 30, 2018
The world of internet commerce was shaken to its foundations in January this year, when the Supreme Court agreed to reconsider its landmark holding in Quill Corp. v. N. Dakota. For more than twenty-five years, Quill has barred states from imposing tax-collection obligations on retailers lacking “physical presence” in the taxing state. As a practical matter, this has meant that internet retailers with no employees or facilities in a state can sell into the state without collecting the sales taxes that local retailers must. In this Essay, I’ll argue that original historical evidence I’ve collected suggests that the political economy premises on which Quill rests are fundamentally mistaken. But I believe that same evidence should lead the Court to keep in place the larger body of “Dormant Commerce Clause” jurisprudence from which Quill first sprung.
Keywords: e-commerce, sales and use tax, dormant commerce clause, federalism, state and local tax
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