TAXATION-ONLINE SALES, TAXATION OF

September 26th, 2022 by Rieders Travis in Miscellaneous

Online Merchs. Guild v. Hassell, 2022 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 119 (September 9, 2022) (Ceisler, J.).  Before this Court are cross-applications for summary relief filed by C. Daniel Hassell, the Secretary of Revenue (Revenue), and the Online Merchants Guild (Guild), a trade association comprised of online businesses that sell merchandise through Amazon’s Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) Program. The key issue before this Court is whether non-Pennsylvania businesses that sell merchandise through Amazon’s FBA Program must collect and remit Pennsylvania sales tax pursuant to Section 237(b)(1) of the Tax Reform Code of 1971 (Tax Code), which provides that “[e]very person maintaining a place of business” in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Commonwealth) must collect and remit Pennsylvania sales tax, or pay personal income tax (PIT) pursuant to Section 302(b) of the Tax Code, which imposes PIT at a rate of 3.75 % upon nonresidents for income derived “from sources within this Commonwealth.”  After careful review, we hold that Revenue has failed to provide sufficient evidence that non-Pennsylvania businesses selling merchandise through the FBA Program (FBA Merchants), and whose connections to the Commonwealth were only shown to be limited to the storage of merchandise by Amazon in one of Amazon’s Pennsylvania warehouses, have sufficient contacts with the Commonwealth such that Revenue can mandate they collect and remit sales tax or pay PIT pursuant to Sections 237(b)(1) and 302(b) of the Tax Code. Accordingly, we grant the Guild’s cross-application for summary relief and deny the cross-application for summary relief filed by Revenue.

Attorney Cliff Rieders

Attorney Cliff RiedersCliff Rieders is a Nationally Board Certified Trial Lawyer practicing personal injury law. A large part of his practice involves multi-district litigation, including cases related to pharmaceuticals, vitamin supplements and medical devices. He is admitted in several state and federal courts, as well as the Supreme Court of the United States. Rieders is the past regional president of the Federal Bar Association and is a life member of the distinguished American Law Institute, which promulgates proposed rules adopted by many state courts. He is a past president of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. As a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, he served on the Board for 15 years.

Not only has Rieders held many highly esteemed, leadership positions, he authored legislation related to the Patient Safety Authority and the Mcare Act, which governs medical and hospital liability actions in Pennsylvania. He authored texts upon which both practitioners and judges rely, including Pennsylvania Malpractice Laws and Forms, and Financial Responsibility Law Issues in Pennsylvania, the latter governing auto and truck collisions in Pennsylvania. In addition, he wrote several books on the practice of law in Pennsylvania regarding wrongful death and survivor actions, insurance bad faith, legal malpractice claims and worker rights, among others. Rieders also serves as a resource to practitioners as a regular speaker for Celesq, an arm of the world’s largest legal publisher, Thomson Reuters West Publishing.

As recognition of his wide range of contribution to his profession and of his dedication to protecting the rights of his clients, he received numerous awards, among them the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, the Milton D. Rosenberg Award, the B’nai B’rith Justice Award, and awards of recognition from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers. [ Attorney Bio ]