Revisiting an ‘antiquated’ online sales tax rule
The National Retail Federation welcomed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to take up a South Dakota case on whether online sellers can be required to collect sales tax the same as local stores, but it also urged Congress to address the issue through federal legislation.
“Retail is a dynamic industry that’s rapidly transforming,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Unfortunately, antiquated sales tax collection rules have resulted in an uneven playing field that’s making it harder for Main Street retailers to compete in today’s digital economy. This is a basic question about fairness, which all of our members deserve whether they’re selling in stores or online.”
“The fact that the Supreme Court has decided to reconsider its outdated ruling is encouraging, and we are hopeful it will lead to a positive outcome that reflects the realities of 21st century commerce,” Shay said. “Congress should not sit on the sidelines as the Supreme Court considers this case. It’s time to pass legislation to settle this critical issue once and for all. Even if the court rules in favor of a modern sales tax policy, legislation will still be needed to spell out how that would work.”
In November, the NRF filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Supreme Court to take up an appeal brought by the state of South Dakota, saying the Quill Corp. v. North Dakota (1992) decision is outdated. In Quill, the court said sales tax laws across the country were too complicated for retailers to know how much tax to collect unless they were physically present in the customer’s state. NRF argued in November’s brief that computer software has made that concern obsolete today.
In addition to the case before the Supreme Court, NRF is continuing to support the Remote Transactions Parity Act, which would allow states to require out-of-state sellers to collect sales tax. Even if the Supreme Court were to allow that, NRF believes federal legislation is necessary to resolve details on how collection would take place rather than leaving it to each of the states to interpret the court’s ruling.
Houzz Stat: Architects feel confident in their uptick of work
Architects and designers are feeling confident. Architecture firms posted a reading of 62 for the third quarter of 2017; designer firms, 65. Both scores are slightly below the levels for these groups during the second quarter of 2017, but that is to be expected given the shift of the seasons. The scores for architects and designers are close to the levels of one year earlier, indicating fairly stable demand.
Score for size of architects’ new projects bounces back. This chart shows the components of the Houzz Renovation Barometer: number of inquiries, number of new projects or orders, and size of new projects or orders. In each category, a score above 50 means that there are more firms reporting that business activity is higher than there are firms reporting it is lower, relative to the previous quarter. The barometer, described above, is a simple average of the scores for the three components.
The scores in this chart are for architects and designers. Notably, the score for the size of architects’ new projects or orders is up compared with the scores of both the previous quarter and the same quarter during the previous year.
Download the full report here.
More people, more stories
It’s a people business. That’s why HBSDealer’s editor in chief has vowed the following New Year’s resolution: Talk to more people (the more interesting the better), and tell more of their stories in the print and digital pages of HBSDealer.
On cue, into my office walks LBM editor Andy Carlo, HBSDealer’s newest hire. Carlo and I worked together in the early 2000s at what was then Home Channel News, the forerunner of HBSDealer, before he left — “blown by such winds as scatters young men throughout the world, to seek their fortunes farther than at home,” as Shakespeare said.
How’s it feel to be back?
It’s like going home again, but at the same time it’s a breath of fresh air. Many things have changed since I was last at Home Channel News. There’s a much greater digital focus than 10 years ago, and social media was pretty much non-existent.
In the early 2000s, you were on the cover of a special issue on Lowe’s in the parking lot of a Lowe’s store in upstate New York. You were dressed like a Lowe’s employee. Remember that?
A brutally cold day.
In a recent interview, you asked an industry leader to list his favorite dive bars? Is that going to be one of your recurring questions?
Depends on who I am interviewing. In an industry where deals get done with a phone call or handshake, sometimes it’s applicable. If you’ve been to a good number of industry events you know that this industry knows how to have a good time and that frequently takes place at the bar once the work is done.
As Neil Young said, “See the losers in the best bars, meet the winners in the dives. Where the people are the real stars, all the rest of their lives.”
This column will quote Neil Young and William Shakespeare. What do you think of that?
When we worked together last go around, you were a single man. Now you’re a father of two. Does it affect your reporting?
I have to get things done much more quickly and thoroughly during my “on” hours. Once the kids are home from daycare, they can be ruthless in putting me on their clock. It becomes full-on DadLife. But it’s all for the good — children are a miracle and astonish me one way or another every single day.