Jewelers of America Joins Sales Tax Fairness Petition to US Supreme Court

Jewelers of America (JA) said it has joined a group of 10 retail trade associations that have filed an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court in support of South Dakota’s petition to the court to re-consider the Quill decision from 1992.

That decision established the current system under which states are prohibited from collecting sales and use taxes from sellers that do not have a physical presence in-state, leading to the current uneven playing field between traditional and online sellers.

“This is an historic opportunity for our industry to stand up for sales tax fairness,” says David J. Bonaparte, President and CEO. “We are hopeful the court will take up the South Dakota case and recognize that Quill does not reflect the retail landscape that exists today.”

South Dakota’s petition was filed to the court in early October, after the South Dakota Supreme Court issued a ruling that the state's online sales tax law is unconstitutional. Rather than a defeat, that outcome was expected and hoped for, since it set the stage to file the petition and challenge Quill’s applicability to the modern retail marketplace.

In addition to Jewelers of America, the brief is being submitted by national trade associations whose members sell everything from furniture and lighting fixtures to textbooks and sporting equipment. The effort is being spearheaded by the Marketplace Fairness Coalition (MFC).

Jewelers of America supported the brief by providing stories and information from jewelers on how the practice of “showrooming” -- visiting a store in order to examine a product before buying it online at a lower price/without sales tax – has had a negative impact on jewelry businesses.

While jewelers and other businesses are prepared to compete with online sellers when it comes to price, service and selection, the brief argues that they are being forced to compete on an uneven playing field.

“Simply put: sales tax differentials combined with a rise in mobile technology and e-commerce are putting local sellers out of business, emptying out the retail centers of our nation’s towns and cities, destroying local jobs, and hurting small towns and communities,” the associations’ state in the introduction to the brief.