This morning, I was reviewing various articles and blogs related to sales tax nexus and came across an old, (1997) yet interesting article written by J. William Gurley titled “Sales Tax and the Internet:  What’s Next with Nexus.”

Some parts read like this could have been written yesterday instead of 15 years ago.  For example, “What is needed is simplicity. The federal government should quickly create a standard, simplistic, and comprehensive policy.”  Wow!  The author was right on target with that one.  That could still be said today.  Other portions of the article clue you in on the fact that this was written 15 years ago.  For example, it talks about the taxation of downloaded music and whether it is considered tangible personal property or not.  Most states have addressed this in recent years.

This article reminded me of how far we’ve come yet how far we need to go.  It wasn’t too long after this article was published before the Streamlined Sales Tax Project took hold in March 2000.  We’ve all watched that saga unfold over the last 12+ years.  Today, new federal guidelines are being debated in the name of The Marketplace Fairness and Marketplace Equity Acts.  Will these be the panacea?

I wonder if 15 more years from now, we’ll still be having the debate about how to simplify sales tax collection and as a result how to require remote sellers to be responsible for the collection and remittance of sales tax.  It feels like a change is imminent – perhaps within the next couple of years.  However, I’m sure sales tax experts for the last 15 years have had the same feeling.  What do you think?

Brian Greer

Written by Brian Greer