Kansas AG: New policy for taxing online sales is invalid

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly talks to reporters, Monday, Sept. 30, 2019, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kansas. Attorney General Derek Schmidt has issued a legal opinion saying that a new and aggressive policy imposed by Kelly's administration for taxing online sales is invalid. (AP Photo/John Hanna)
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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has issued a legal opinion declaring that a new and aggressive state policy for taxing online sales is invalid.

Top Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature immediately demanded Monday that Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly require the Department of Revenue to rescind the policy.

Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita) complimented the opinion, saying the Attorney General's Office stopped Kelly from governing through executive orders.

"The Governor seems to think she can occupy the role of legislature and the governor's office," she continued. "The seperation of our three branches of government is under attack by this administration and it needs to end."

The department issued a notice in August saying any "remote seller" doing business with Kansas residents must collect state and local sales taxes and forward the revenues to the state, starting Tuesday. It cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year allowing states to collect such taxes.

Responding to Schmidt's statement, the Revenue Secretary Mark Burghart stated his agency "cannot select which laws it enforces."

The GOP attorney general said the department didn't have the authority to impose such a policy through a notice.

Burghart countered by saying the notice did not actually change any policy or law. He said it was only meant to remind online retailers of a law overwhelmingly passed by the Legislature in 2003, in light of the Supreme Court's Wayfair decision, which removed the need for a physical presence in a state for that state's sales tax to be applied.

Legislators included provisions on taxing internet sales in two tax-cutting bills this year, but Kelly vetoed both.

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