National Bellas Hess v. Illinois

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National Bellas Hess v. Department of Revenue
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued February 23, 1967
Decided May 8, 1967
Full case name National Bellas Hess v. Department of Revenue
Citations 386 U.S. 753 (more)
87 S.Ct. 1389
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Stewart, joined by Warren, Clark, Harlan, Brennan, White
Dissent Fortas, joined by Black, Douglas

In National Bellas Hess v. Department of Revenue, 386 U.S. 753, 87 S.Ct. 1389 (1967), the Supreme Court ruled that a mail order reseller was not required to collect sales tax unless it had some physical contact with the state.

Background[edit]

National Bellas Hess was a mail order seller of various consumer products. Its principal place of business was in Missouri. It owned no tangible property in Illinois and had no sales outlets, representatives, telephone listing, or solicitors in that state. It did not advertise there by radio, television, billboards, or newspapers. It mailed catalogues to customers throughout the United States, including Illinois. Orders for merchandise were mailed to appellant's Missouri plant, and goods were sent to customers by mail or common carrier. The State of Illinois attempted to force National Bellas Hess to collect a use tax from its customers.

Ruling[edit]

"The Commerce Clause prohibits a State from imposing the duty of use tax collection and payment upon a seller whose only connection with customers in the State is by common carrier or by mail." The court stated that "the Court has never held that a State may impose the duty of use tax collection and payment upon a seller whose only connection with customers in the State is by common carrier or the United States mail." The opinion cited Miller Brothers Co. v. Maryland, 347 U.S. 340.

In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled similarly in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota.

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