Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298, 14 (1992)

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Cite as: 504 U. S. 298 (1992)

Opinion of the Court

did not rely on any such labeling of taxes and therefore did not automatically fall with Freeman and its progeny.

While contemporary Commerce Clause jurisprudence might not dictate the same result were the issue to arise for the first time today, Bellas Hess is not inconsistent with Complete Auto and our recent cases. Under Complete Auto's four-part test, we will sustain a tax against a Commerce Clause challenge so long as the "tax [1] is applied to an activity with a substantial nexus with the taxing State, [2] is fairly apportioned, [3] does not discriminate against interstate commerce, and [4] is fairly related to the services provided by the State." 430 U. S., at 279. Bellas Hess concerns the first of these tests and stands for the proposition that a vendor whose only contacts with the taxing State are by mail or common carrier lacks the "substantial nexus" required by the Commerce Clause.

Thus, three weeks after Complete Auto was handed down, we cited Bellas Hess for this proposition and discussed the case at some length. In National Geographic Society v. California Bd. of Equalization, 430 U. S. 551, 559 (1977), we affirmed the continuing vitality of Bellas Hess' "sharp distinction . . . between mail-order sellers with [a physical presence in the taxing] State and those . . . who do no more than communicate with customers in the State by mail or common carrier as part of a general interstate business." We have continued to cite Bellas Hess with approval ever since. For example, in Goldberg v. Sweet, 488 U. S. 252, 263 (1989), we expressed "doubt that termination of an interstate telephone call, by itself, provides a substantial enough nexus for a State to tax a call. See National Bellas Hess . . . (receipt of mail provides insufficient nexus)." See also D. H. Holmes Co. v. McNamara, 486 U. S. 24, 33 (1988); Commonwealth Edison Co. v. Montana, 453 U. S. 609, 626 (1981); Mobil Oil Corp. v. Commissioner of Taxes, 445 U. S., at 437; National Geographic Society, 430 U. S., at 559. For these reasons, we disagree with the State Supreme Court's conclu-


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