Friday, October 18, 2013

Illinois Supreme Court Rules Illinois “Click Through” Nexus Statute Is Void And Preempted By Federal Law

The Illinois Supreme Court issued its decision today in Performance Marketing Association v. Hamer, ruling that the Illinois “affiliate nexus” (also known as “click-through nexus”) law is “void and unenforceable” because it is preempted by federal law. Brann & Isaacson partners George Isaacson and Matthew Schaefer represented the PMA in this case, and Isaacson argued the case before the Illinois Supreme Court on May 22, 2013. The case was on appeal from the Circuit Court, which had had held that the affiliate nexus law was an unconstitutional violation of the Commerce Clause, and was also preempted by the Internet Tax Freedom Act (“ITFA”), because it impermissibly discriminated against electronic commerce. In affirming the lower court’s decision, the Illinois Supreme Court based its holding on a violation of the ITFA, and did not reach the Constitutional argument.

The Illinois law had purported to impose a use tax collection obligation on any out-of-state retailer or serviceman who had a contract with a person located in Illinois that paid a commission based on sales generated from referral links placed on that person’s website, provided the retailer realized a minimum in $10,000 in sales to customers through such links. Under the Internet Tax Freedom Act, states are prohibited from imposing “discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce.” A discriminatory tax is defined as a tax that “imposes an obligation to collect or pay tax on a different person or entity than in the case of transactions involving similar property, goods, services, or information accomplished through other means.” 47 U.S.C. §151 note.

The ruling is a significant victory for online retailers, and for the Illinois individuals who generate income through affiliate links.

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