On January 29, 2020, the Louisiana Supreme Court issued a 4-3 decision in Normand v. Wal-Mart.com USA, reversing in full two lower courts and holding Walmart.com was not required to collect local sales tax on third-party sales facilitated through its online marketplace. The majority concluded Walmart.com was not a “dealer” under Louisiana law for purposes of such sales and the company’s contracts with third-party marketplace retailers did not transfer the third-party retailers’ sales tax obligation to Walmart.com.
(This article was originally published by Law360 on March 18, 2019.)
When challenging a state tax assessment outside the tax agency that issued the assessment, taxpayers face a variety of obstacles. One is the presumption of correctness that often attaches to a tax agency’s determination. Judicial deference to a tax agency’s interpretation of a tax statute or regulation makes the taxpayer’s task even more difficult.
Three years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a portion of Maryland’s personal income tax scheme on grounds that it violated the dormant commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. In Comptroller of the Treasury of Maryland v Wynne, the Court held that Maryland’s credit mechanism for income taxes paid to other states impermissibly discriminated against interstate commerce because it allowed a credit against state taxes paid but not county taxes, resulting in double taxation on some income earned outside the state.