Question of sales tax on online purchases goes to high court

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WASHINGTON (AP) - A case before the Supreme Court could change the longstanding rule that businesses shipping merchandise to a state where it doesn't have a physical presence doesn't have to collect the state's sales tax.

That's been a big plus for online shoppers and many of the merchants who do business on the internet.

The case scheduled for a hearing Tuesday comes as more than 40 states ask the high court to reconsider the rule, saying they're losing out on billions of dollars in tax revenue each year.

But small businesses that sell online say the complexity and expense of collecting taxes nationwide could force them to close. States counter that software has made sales tax collection simple.

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