For more than 50 years, the Supreme Court has prevented states from requiring out-of-state sellers to collect sales tax unless the seller has a physical presence, such as a local store or warehouse, in the state in which the sale occurs. Although the out-of-state sellers’ customers are supposed to remit tax on such sales, very few of them do so. As online retail sales continue to grow, states’ annual revenue loss has been estimated to be as much as $33.9 billion in 2018.
“The trade news is a negative at the moment. Going forward I don’t think this is the way to grow the economy by slapping tariffs on the way that we’ve seen. Whether this is strategic or not is yet to be determined. Whether there will be some grand deal that’s going to be worked. But this is clearly something that should be concerning to employers. Not just those guys who are directly on the list today, but really who is safe? Some industries might be. Maybe it’s the hospitals, some really domestic type industries that don’t care so much about what is happening in our trade patterns. But I think a lot of folks are rightfully concerned about a new uncertainty in public policy.”
“”Opioid abuse is an epidemic in the United States, claiming more than 42,000 lives in 2016 alone (CDC 2017c). In addition to its devastating impact on families and communities, the opioid epidemic is costing the US economy tens of billions, if not hundreds of billions, of dollars annually. The types of costs attributable to opioid abuse – health care costs, criminal justice costs, and lost productivity, for example – are fairly well understood, as is the economic impact of the crisis at the national level,”writes the report which was authored by Alex Brill of the American Enterprise Institute and Scott Ganz of Georgia Institute of Technology.”
“There is a real wide variation when we think about how this epidemic has affected different parts of the country…. What we tried to do is allocate these costs by state and even by county. And what we find in that result is in a per capita basis, places like District of Columbia, New Hampshire, Connecticut, these are really leading states in these non-mortality related costs. When we think about total costs, meaning adding in the cost of lost life, West Virginia just shoots to the top of the list.”
“It’s a staggering cost for a county with 23,645 people in rural Southern West Virginia, a region also struggling with the loss of coal jobs. Boone County’s opioid-related economic cost comes out to $8,734 per person, the AEI study found.”
As the opioid epidemic worsens in the United States, the toll it imposes on the US economy has risen to staggering heights. The White House Council of Economic Advisers recently estimated the economic burden, inclusive of the value of statistical lives lost, to be $504 billion in 2015. More narrowly constructed estimates find cost burdens as high as $95 billion in 2016.
While discussing the recent job report and unemployment rate, Alex Brill said “it’s a phenomenal number in terms in job creation. Unemployment rate another phenomenal number. Our unemployment rate is basically stuck at 4.1. Last time it was five months in a row was back to 2012 when it was double the rate it is today. So we are seeing an economy near full employment with numbers that are really surprising this late in the cycle.”
Alex Brill joined the Tax Foundation for a panel discussion on what the federal tax policy debate will look like over the next decade. He shared, “the idea that tax reform will need more work, saying that a sound policy must be sustainable and predictable. And he argued that Congress should consider new ways to broaden the tax base to afford more sound, pro-growth reforms.”
Brief of Brill, Knoll, Mason, and Viard as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioner in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc.
The passage of time and changing circumstances have rendered the physical-presence requirement articulated in National Bellas Hess, Inc. v. Department of Revenue, 386 U.S. 753, 758 (1967), and Quill Corporation v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298, 324-15 (1992), a harmful anachronism. Standard tools of economic analysis that the Court considered in Comptroller of the Treasury v. Wynne reveal that South Dakota’s sales and use tax regime, as amended by S.B. 106, promotes neutral treatment of in-state and interstate commerce. By contrast, the bright-line physical-presence requirement set forth in Bellas Hess and Quill forces states to extend what is in practice a discriminatory subsidy in favor of a specific class of out-of-state sellers, namely, those sellers who lack a physical presence within the state. On the facts of the challenged statute, there is no valid economic reason to mandate such a discriminatory subsidy.
“[Alex] Brill noted that other developed countries have already begun to reduce, or have proposed reducing, their corporate rates in response to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (P.L. 115-97), which has in turn prompted some concerns of a “race to the bottom” of countries competing with each other by shrinking their corporate tax revenue base. If the United States reverted to a 35 percent corporate rate or even just partially undid the rate cut, it could put itself at an even greater competitive disadvantage than it was in before the TCJA’s passage, Brill said.”