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The impact of the Supreme Court’s decision on online sales tax

People wait in line to enter the U.S. Supreme Court last month.
People wait in line to enter the U.S. Supreme Court last month.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

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The Supreme Court has cleared the way for states to collect sales taxes from online retailers.

The 5-4 ruling overturns previous decisions from the High Court that exempted internet retailers with no physical presence in the state from collecting taxes.

The case stemmed from a law passed by the state of South Dakota in 2016, which required all online retailers to collect sales tax for purchases made in the state. South Dakota then took several out-of-state online retailers -- Wayfair,, and Newegg -- to court over the law.

The decision is a big win for states -- as well as for brick-and-mortar business that have long claimed that the lack of a sales tax on online purchases create an uneven playing field. And besides big online retailers like Amazon and, today’s decision also impacts small businesses that sell online.

Libby talks with Brent Kendall from the Wall Street Journal about today’s decision, as well as looking forward to major decisions from the Supreme Court for the remainder of the term, which ends next week.

With guest host Libby Denkmann


Brent Kendall, legal affairs reporter in the Washington bureau of The Wall Street Journal who’s been following the case; he tweets @brkend

Richard Wolf, Supreme Court correspondent for USA Today