Jun 21, 2018

Supreme Court opens the door to online sales taxes

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Supreme Court today paved the way for states to begin collecting sales taxes from online vendors. In a 5-4 decision, the court threw out a precedent that had blocked online sales taxes.

Why it matters: Online retailers likely will have to pay billions more in taxes each year. Although some large online retailers like Amazon already collect sales taxes, smaller vendors don't.

The big picture: The high court ruled in 1992 that states could only collect sales taxes from entities with a "physical presence" in the state. It overturned that ruling today, calling it "unsound and incorrect."

The Trump administration had sided with brick-and-mortar stores that brought the case, arguing that states should be allowed to levy sales tax.

What to watch: The ball is in Congress' court to create national standards around interstate commerce to avoid a patchwork of state sales tax laws that can be difficult for retailers (especially small businesses) to navigate, tech and free-market groups said.

What's next: If the court is catching up to modern technology, even at the expense of its own precedents, that could have big implications for other outstanding cases, including a potentially landmark case about law enforcement's ability to track the location of people's cell phones.

Go deeper: Here's a primer on the case.

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Scoop: Inside the Trump campaign's big hedge on Facebook

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Trump campaign has invested most of its advertising budget to date on Facebook, testing thousands of versions of ads per day to maximize its spending.

But behind the scenes, a source familiar with the campaign tells Axios, the thinking has shifted: "As everyone can see, we still have strong spending on Facebook, but the percentage of our total media budget [on Facebook] is shrinking."

Trump's revenge tour has the House in its sights

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Saul Loeb/Getty Contributor

In the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections — buoyed by Republican control of both chambers — President Trump viewed campaigning for the House as a lower-tier priority and instead poured his energy into rallying for the Senate.

But after the GOP reckoning in 2018, and experiencing firsthand how damaging a Democratic-led House has been to him, Trump is now personally invested in helping Republicans regain the majority in November, several people familiar with his thinking tell Axios.

Pelosi warns U.S. allies against working with China's Huawei

Nancy Pelosi, Feb. 16. Photo: Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday cautioned U.S. allies against allowing Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei to develop their 5G networks, arguing at the Munich Security Conference that doing so is akin to “choosing autocracy over democracy," CNBC reports.

Why it matters: Pelosi's hawkish stance marks a rare area of agreement with the Trump administration, which believes Huawei is a national security threat because the Chinese government may be capable of accessing its equipment for espionage.

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