Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298, 16 (1992)

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

Opinion of the Court

The Complete Auto analysis reflects these concerns about the national economy. The second and third parts of that analysis, which require fair apportionment and non-discrimination, prohibit taxes that pass an unfair share of the tax burden onto interstate commerce. The first and fourth prongs, which require a substantial nexus and a relationship between the tax and state-provided services, limit the reach of state taxing authority so as to ensure that state taxation does not unduly burden interstate commerce.6 Thus, the "substantial nexus" requirement is not, like due process' "minimum contacts" requirement, a proxy for notice, but rather a means for limiting state burdens on interstate commerce. Accordingly, contrary to the State's suggestion, a corporation may have the "minimum contacts" with a taxing State as required by the Due Process Clause, and yet lack the "substantial nexus" with that State as required by the Commerce Clause.7

6 North Dakota's use tax illustrates well how a state tax might unduly burden interstate commerce. On its face, North Dakota law imposes a collection duty on every vendor who advertises in the State three times in a single year. Thus, absent the Bellas Hess rule, a publisher who included a subscription card in three issues of its magazine, a vendor whose radio advertisements were heard in North Dakota on three occasions, and a corporation whose telephone sales force made three calls into the State, all would be subject to the collection duty. What is more significant, similar obligations might be imposed by the Nation's 6,000-plus taxing jurisdictions. See National Bellas Hess, Inc. v. Department of Revenue of Ill., 386 U. S. 753, 759-760 (1967) (noting that the "many variations in rates of tax, in allowable exemptions, and in administrative and record-keeping requirements could entangle [a mail-order house] in a virtual welter of complicated obligations") (footnotes omitted); see also Shaviro, An Economic and Political Look at Federalism in Taxation, 90 Mich. L. Rev. 895, 925-926 (1992).

7 We have sometimes stated that the "Complete Auto test, while responsive to Commerce Clause dictates, encompasses as well . . . due process requirement[s]." Trinova Corp. v. Michigan Dept. of Treasury, 498 U. S. 358, 373 (1991). Although such comments might suggest that every tax that passes contemporary Commerce Clause analysis is also valid under the Due Process Clause, it does not follow that the converse is as well


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