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In National Bellas Hess v. Department of Revenue
, 386 U.S. 753
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, 87 S.Ct. 1389 (1967), the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...
ruled that a mail order reseller was not required to collect sales tax unless it had some physical contact with the state.
National Bellas Hess was a mail order seller of various consumer products. Its principal place of business was in Missouri. It owned no tangible property in Illinois, had no sales outlets, representatives, telephone listing, or solicitors in that State, and did not advertise there by radio, television, billboards, or newspapers. It mailed catalogues to customers throughout the United States, including Illinois. Orders for merchandise were mailed to appellant's Missouri plant, and goods were sent to customers by mail or common carrier. The State of Illinois attempted to require that National Bellas Hess collect sales tax from customers.
Supreme Court ruling
"The Commerce Clause prohibits a State from imposing the duty of use tax collection and payment upon a seller whose only connection with customers in the State is by common carrier or by mail." The court stated, "the Court has never held that a State may impose the duty of use tax collection and payment upon a seller whose only connection with customers in the State is by common carrier or the United States mail." The opinion cited Miller Bros. Co. v. Maryland, 347 U.S. 340.
The type of tax imposed was in later years referred to as a "sales" tax. In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled similarly in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota
Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298 is a Supreme Court ruling concerning use tax. Quill Corporation is an office supply retailer...