If anyone is interested in reading the NYS complaint here is the link:
Basically NYS says Sprint has to charge full sales tax on their fixed rate plans. Sprint's position is they should only be liable for sales tax on that portion of the calls made within the borders of NYS. Evidently Sprint has records of % of intrastate versus out of state calls.
This is a murky area. Most land line telephone companies have a set charge for access and separate charges for long distance. They itemize billing for those calls. Sprint bundled all the calls together for easy of payment for customers and unbundled them for tax purposes.
I would suggest that if Sprint can present data that a certain portion of the NYS calls were to out of state locations, and therefore be exempt from state tax they are on sound ground. They will get an advantage by pleading their case in federal court. Therefore, the first order of business for the Sprint lawyers is to petition to move the matter from state court to federal court.
This is liable to take a long time (years) to resolve.
"Does Sprint have the resources to fight it out all the through the Federal Supreme Court?"
I assume you mean the US Supreme Court.
Hypothetically, the answer would be yes. However, please understand NYS cannot afford an unfavorable ruling.
One further note to put the final nail in the NYS coffin.
If states can charge tax on interstate electronic communications, states that the communication passes through could also be able to charge for transferring the calls. If you are in NYS and call California, that communication could easily pass through call centers in 10 states. That would mean 10 addtl taxes based on call center usage. Some states might see the opening to start taxing video communication at a higher rate. It would be a giant clusterxxxx.
I see much ado about nothing.
"Why didn't Verizon and T fight it then?"
It probably was more of a political decision.
ATT in all likelihood has a lot of wireline equipment and facilities in NYS. The tax probably didn't bother them that much. After all, the customer pays it. VZ was probably 50:50 on whether to fight it. Sprint, being the small guy, didn't want to pay it so they could offer a less expensive plan.
Ultimately, the federal courts are the correct place to settle this.
As food for thought, imagine if NYS received a favorable ruling. Every state in the union would immediately tax interstate telephone calls. That would beg the question of what other forms of communication could be taxed or regulated across state lines. E-mail correspondence? Cellphone transactions? Bank fund transfers? Satellite broadcasting? etc. You get the picture.
Now you know why Sprint told them to go pound sand.
And if this has gone to the AG, Sprint has been having an issue with the tax department for a long time. There have likely been both desk and field audits, and they are obliged by law to notify the AG of people who think they don't have to collect taxes.
The Sprint/NY tax case is a common source of contention.
Sprint believes states cannot tax interstate calls. New York feels it can. It will ultimately be decided by a federal court since they will claim jurisdiction.
It's a very public push by the NYS AG but he had to do something since this goes back quite a few years. He needed to get this off the books.
This will never go to court decision. NYS cannot afford an unfavorable ruling.