National Legislative Summit Talks Internet Tax Collection

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By Mike Vasilinda
August 12, 2013

Dozens of Florida lawmakers and their staffs are joining more than a thousand of their counterparts at a national legislative summit in Atlanta, where the number one topic on the states' agenda is collecting a tax they are already owed.

The failure to collect taxes on internet purchases is a 23 billion dollar loophole nation wide. Illinois State Senator Pamela Althoff says legislation pending in Congress is the number one priority of state lawmakers meeting in Atlanta.

“It’s money the we should be collecting but we don’t have the regulatory authority to do so” says Althoff, who chairs the National Conference of State Legislature’s Task Force on Tax Fairness.

A round table discussion drew the biggest crowd at the opening day lunch. Florida recently cut a deal with Amazon, the internet giant will start collecting the Florida tax in 2016. Utah State Senator Wayne Harper, who is the Chairman of the National group pushing the tax collection says the Florida Amazon Deal will strengthen efforts to a national solution

“I think it enhances a possibility that the bill will pass, because they realize more and more retailers are expanding out.”

The message here is that states can avoid raising taxes in the future if they start collecting what they’re owed” says Harper.

Supporters in Atlanta say collecting the tax already owed could ward off tax increases later. For example, in 2009, Florida nearly doubled its motor vehicle fees-- had the internet sales tax collection been in place, that height could have been avoided.

A new study also suggests that collecting the tax will produce jobs. Orlando State Senator Geraldine Thompson says businesses are coming around.

“And now that those business are speaking up and they see that it impacts them in a negative way, I believe that we are going to see some movement this year” says Thompson.

Most estimates say that Florida is losing between one and four billion a year in taxes that is owed but isn’t collecting. It’s estimated taxing online purchases could create more than 1.5 million jobs in the next 10 years.

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