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"Retail Dive" featured Law Professor Paul Rafelson in "What's at stake in the e-commerce sales tax debate"

04/17/2018

"Retail Dive" featured Law Professor Paul Rafelson in "What's at stake in the e-commerce sales tax debate"

...For smaller retailers and marketplace sellers "disruptive" might not begin to cover it. To Paul Rafelson, Pace University law professor and co-founder of the newly formed trade association Online Merchants Guild, the debate represents an "existential crisis."

"There's so much of the community that is not going to be around, and I don't think people realize that, in six months, maybe a year when the full force of what is happening is realized," he told Retail Dive. Rafelson and the members of his association are concerned about a tangential problem that SCOTUS may or may not weigh in on: What does a decision mean for marketplace sellers? Should marketplaces collect state sales tax on behalf of third party sellers?

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"Retail Dive" featured law professor Paul Rafelson in "Why Trump is 'obsessed' with Amazon"

03/29/2018

"Retail Dive" featured law professor Paul Rafelson in "Why Trump is 'obsessed' with Amazon"

...In fact, as a retailer, Amazon has collected and remitted state sales tax in all states since April of last year — in no small part because as the retailer has grown, it has expanded into most states with fulfillment centers, warehouses, stores and other assets that would be considered a physical presence. While the court's decision won't affect Amazon in large part, it could have an effect on large third party sellers of its marketplace indirectly. Amazon only collects on behalf of marketplace sellers in a few states, including Washington, Rhode Island, Minnesota and Pennsylvania.

The possible implications of sales tax collection for marketplace sellers has been enough to rouse Paul Rafelson into recently creating the Online Merchants Guild, an association currently with 100 marketplace merchant members. Rafelson, a Pace University law professor and co-founder of the association, told Retail Dive that tax collection and remittance responsibility should fall to the marketplaces, and if it doesn't many third party sellers may not be able to foot the bill to collect taxes on their own.

"With respect to Amazon, there's really no reason why [it] can't collect those taxes today and two states changed the law, was that even necessary? If you read the law in most of these states it's not," he said. "The definition of who the retailer is unders state statute would lead you to conclude that Amazon is the true retailer because Amazon controls every aspect of the transaction, it's Amazon's name on everything."

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