Sales Tax Exceptionalism

55 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2012

Date Written: September 27, 2012


There is something different about the state sales tax, or so it seems based on judicial decisions creating unique jurisdictional and apportionment standards for the tax. This Article explores the concept of “sales tax exceptionalism,” and assesses whether the special treatment afforded to the sales tax is justified by the theoretical foundations of the tax. In particular, the Article examines whether theoretical justifications exist for the unique jurisdictional standard applied to the sales tax (a “physical presence” standard), as compared to the “economic presence” standard applied to the corporate income tax. Ultimately, the Article concludes that only weak theoretical justifications support the different jurisdictional standards, and that recent changes to many states’ corporate income taxes further undercut the notion of “sales tax exceptionalism.”

Suggested Citation

Haile, Andrew J., Sales Tax Exceptionalism (September 27, 2012). Columbia Journal of Tax Law, Forthcoming, Elon University Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-07, Available at SSRN:

Andrew J. Haile (Contact Author)

Elon University School of Law ( email )

201 N. Greene Street
Greensboro, NC 27401
United States

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