The American debate on taxing distance sales and e-commerce

For constitutional reasons, US states are unable to impose sales tax on imports from another state. To fill that lacuna, they impose an equivalent system of use tax on imports. However, imposition of use tax will only be effective if out-of-state vendors can be required to withhold that tax. In this article, the author describes the sales and use tax aspects of distance sales and, after expiry of the moratorium on 1 November 2007, of Internet access and online services. Improvement of the system of use tax is essential to restore a level playing field between vendors selling their products by means of traditional and modern methods of distribution.