How does a candidate for Governor of South Dakota spin losing another court case? By telling South Dakotans he’s saving them from an income tax.
The South Dakota Supreme Court ruled Wednesday against the state and for online retailers who don’t want to collect tax on their sales to South Dakotans. Attorney General Marty Jackley asked the Court to rule against the state so the state could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as possible. So in a way, at this intermediate stage, Marty won by losing.
But kicking the appeal to the federal level isn’t just about tax fairness, as the law in question has been branded. For candidate Jackley, it is about forestalling the advent of a state income tax:
Attorney General Marty Jackley announces the State of South Dakota is one step closer to bringing tax fairness to South Dakota retailers which would continue to sustain South Dakota’s status as an income tax-free state. The State Supreme Court agreed with Attorney General Jackley that, despite changing times, the Court was obligated to rule in favor of the defendants in State of South Dakota v. Wayfair, Overstock and Newegg [Office of the Attorney General, press release, 2017.09.14].
Our remote-seller sales tax is only partially about making far-flung Internet vendors pay sales tax just like our Main Street shops. That sounds too much like saying South Dakota government wants to raise taxes. For a guy running for governor, it sounds much more appealing to jump a couple of vital logical steps (does state government need more revenue? is sales tax from online vendors the only alternative to directly taxing incomes?) talk about crusading all the way to the Supreme Court to fight a state income tax.