Despite ecommerce existing for more than two decades, there has never been a consensus about sales tax collection.
That might change with the South Dakota v. Wayfair case that is being heard this week. Online retailers Wayfair, Overstock.com and Newegg.com filed a brief with the US Supreme Court to uphold a 1992 ruling, Quill v. North Dakota, that found retailers were only required to collect taxes in states where they had a physical presence.
Many say that decision—involving a mail-order floppy disk company—is outdated and didn’t anticipate today’s online retail environment, in which ecommerce accounts for 10.0% of total retail sales in the US. Per a report from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), it is estimated that state governments could have collected around $13 billion more in 2017 if online sales were subject to tax.
It's easy to see why brick-and-mortar retailers might want to level the playing field. But for the most part, shoppers take a different view.
A September 2017 survey from Rasmussen Reports found that 66% of US consumers opposed an online sales tax, while 13% weren’t sure what they thought of it. And in a more recent YouGov poll from April 2018, the largest proportion of US internet users were against it (36%). But nearly the same number thought it should be required (34%).