The majority of companies represented on the Internet rent third-party computer servers to host their web site and conduct ecommerce. Since the location of the server could be anywhere, states are losing sales and use tax revenue due to the increase in ecommerce from out-of-state companies. Hence, states are looking for ways to replace their lost revenue. In Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, the United States Supreme Court held that minimum contacts were no longer sufficient to establish nexus for purposes of local taxation, but instead required physical presence in the state. Renting electronic space in-state does not constitute physical presence or substantial nexus by an out-of-state company. The current Congressional resistance to taxing the Internet and the ease of switching to another computer server in another state or country to host a web site or conduct e-commerce will prevent states from being able to establish sufficient nexus to tax out-of-state companies renting in-state computer server space.
Paula K. Royalty,
Tax Implications of Using Out-of-State Computer Servers,
1 Shidler J. L. Com. & Tech.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wjlta/vol1/iss2/1