University of Miami Law Review, Vol. 52, No. 3 (April 1998), pp. 691-723


When Ed Cohen honored me with the invitation to present the principal paper on state and local taxation of electronic commerce for this conference, I was pleased to accept, but with one caveat. Because most of my waking hours over the past year seem to have been consumed by the preparation of papers addressed to state taxation of electronic commerce, I warned Ed that much of what I might have to say would not be new -- at least to me. But a funny thing happened on the way to this forum. When I set about my task to prepare yet another paper on state taxation of electronic commerce, fully expecting -- in the finest academic tradition--to cannibalize my earlier writing, I found that there were, in fact, a number of significant issues on which I had barely touched in my previous efforts or that deserved considerably more attention than I had given them. More importantly, the intense debate that has been raging during the past year or so over state taxation of electronic commerce -- particularly with regard to proposed legislative solutions to the problem -- has raised additional issues that warrant consideration. Finally, since at least two of the distinguished commentators on my paper were acquainted with my earlier work, I felt liberated from the obligation to repeat much of what I said before. In this paper, then, I have approached the topic of state taxation of electronic commerce in a somewhat less systematic and formal mode than in my earlier efforts, and more with an eye to some of the issues that have emerged in recent discussions of the subject. Whether or not the paper “moves the ball forward”-- the precondition of its ascension into academic Elysium -- I hope that it will contribute to the public dialogue regarding state taxation of electronic commerce.