While the remote sales tax issue has become more high-profile than ever thanks to the rise of Internet commerce over the past 15 years, it actually dates back as far as 1967. That year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in National Bellas Hess that a state may not require a vendor without physical presence (nexus) to collect sales taxes. The ruling was upheld in Quill in 1992, prompting direct marketing negotiations in the 1990s that eventually led to the formation of the Streamlined Sales Tax Project in 2000.
The impetus for the project was the rise of online sales, which were folded into the issue of Internet access taxation with the 1998 enactment of the federal Internet Tax Freedom Act, which mandated the formation of the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce. The commission held meetings for less than a year, but a call for proposals to address the issue led to the SSTP, which ratified the first draft of a proposal to tax online sales, the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, in 2002. Since then, the agreement has been amended based on input from both the public and private sectors. It has also been implemented in 24 setats and used as a voluntary collection system by various businesses.
Tax Analysts has covered the modern iteration of the issue for the past 25 years. It includes not only coverage of the agreement, but also bipartisan congressional efforts to enact legislation to allow states to require sellers to collect taxes on remote transactions. The issue made unprecedented progress with the U.S. Senate's passage of remote sales tax legislation in May 2013 and is expected to remain on the front of Congress in the foreseeable future, a future that will be detailed in our pages.