For another day at least, the mail-order industry can breathe easy. On May 26, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld its 25-year-old ruling that a state cannot tax sales of companies that mail products from outside the state. North Dakota had challenged a 1967 high court ruling that said states may tax only out-of-state mail-order firms that maintain a physical presence in the state.
The court didn't expressly prohibit states from taxing mail-order houses. It said Congress could allow the practice if the taxes didn't interfere with interstate commerce. But although about $3 billion in state tax revenues are at stake, Congress isn't likely to act on the issue soon.