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SCOTUS Puts Pressure on Congress to Act on eFairness

March 3, 2015


Supreme Court Ruling Sends Clear Signal to House and Senate to Pass Federal Legislation

WASHINGTON, March 3, 2015 — Today the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) watched with great interest the unanimous Supreme Court ruling in Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl. The central question in the lawsuit boiled down to whether out-of-state sellers could push back on Colorado’s attempt to collect sales tax for online purchases through reporting. The Supreme Court decision reverses a lower court ruling and effectively limits Colorado’s efforts to collect sales and use taxes on remote sales in this manner.

As Congress has refused to pass federal efairness legislation that would streamline and simplify the sales tax collection process, states have begun to take the matter into their own hands by passing a patchwork of laws that are confusing to both customers and businesses. Justice Anthony Kennedy recognized this problem when he wrote, as part of the unanimous ruling, that he believes Quill and National Bellas Hess decisions establishing the physical presence rule for sales tax are “now inflicting extreme harm and unfairness on the States.”

“We have never been a big proponent of the Colorado reporting law, but it is emblematic of the various pathways that states are trying to collect the remote sales and use taxes that are owed today,”  said Betsy Laird, senior vice president of Global Public Policy for ICSC. “This ruling should be viewed as the Supreme Court once again pointing at Congress to pass legislation that will give states the ability to collect and level the playing field for brick-and-mortar sellers,” added Laird.

ICSC has promoted efairness for over a decade, advocating that a “sale is a sale” regardless of whether the purchase takes place on Main Street, at shopping centers, or over the Internet. For more information about efairness and how the current sales tax system is unable to support the 21st century retail marketplace, please visit

About ICSC

Founded in 1957, ICSC is the premier global trade association of the shopping center industry. Its more than 68,000 members in over 100 countries include shopping center owners, developers, managers, marketing specialists, investors, retailers and brokers, as well as academics and public officials.  For more information, visit