Supreme Court ruling means online shopping could get pricier

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Buying products online may not remain significantly cheaper for long.
Photo: Apple/Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

If you buy your products online, you could soon find that they get a bit more expensive — due to a Supreme Court ruling that states can now require internet retailers to collect sales taxes. This decision ends 50 years of legal battles banning states from imposing sales taxes on purchases sold by out-of-state retailers.

“Our state is losing millions for education, health care and infrastructure, and our citizens are harmed by an uneven playing field,” said Marty Jackley, South Dakota’s attorney general, summing up the argument in favor of the decision.

President Donald Trump tweeted as recently as April that online retailers such as Amazon pay, “little or no taxes to state & local governments.” Although this information reportedly isn’t accurate with a view to Amazon, it nonetheless gave more visibility to the issue.

Trump hailed the ruling on Thursday as a, “great victory for consumers and retailers.” According to estimates, states could earn anywhere from $13 billion to $34 billion a year in combined revenue.

An NBC News report on the story doesn’t mention Apple, which sells products both online and in physical stores. However, it notes that WalMart — which has physical stores in all 50 states — already has to pay this tax as a result of the “physical presence” rule. Presumably Apple falls under the same banner.

Sill, it does mean that if you buy Apple products (and anything else) for less money on the internet, you could soon find prices going up significantly.