Amazon and Walmart, two of the giants of online retailing, collect sales tax on all their sales in the 45 states that have a statewide sales tax. States say they're losing out in billions of dollars in tax revenue.
In fact, chances are pretty good that you already pay sales tax on at least some of your online purchases if you live in a state that has sales tax.
This week the Supreme Court is considering a case that could end for good a precedent that allows online retailers to not charge sales tax.
But numerous sales these small retailers get are through bigger sites like Amazon and Walmart. Something brick-and-mortar have argued will level the playing field.
On Tuesday, the justices will hear arguments in South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc. If they have to start complying with the complexities of collecting and remitting sales taxes nationwide, many could be forced to abandon that part of their business.
Still, the change in precedent could put a burden on small- and medium-size online retailers who will have to navigate up to 16,000 different taxing units, according to Wayfair, which wants the current rule should stay in place.
"Those smaller retailers are now starting to see an ability to compete with the big guys like Amazon and Walmart", said Sam Cinquegrani, CEO of ObjectWave, a digital strategy and services firm.