Tallahassee, Florida - December 9, 2011 -
Any proposed expansion of sales tax to include Internet and out-of-state sales would have to be revenue neutral for it to have any chance to make it through the session, a key senator said Thursday. Following a Senate Finance and Tax Committee discussion on the issue of how the Internet is cutting into traditional retail sales, the panel's chairwoman, Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, said Senate President Mike Haridopolos has made it clear that anything considered a tax increase would not see the light of day. One option Bogdanoff put forth Thursday would be a quarterly sales tax holiday to offset increases in taxes imposed on the sale of goods from online or out-of-state companies that do not now remit sales tax for purchases made from Florida. Sen. Jim Norman, R-Tampa, suggested on Thursday dropping the state sales tax by .25 percent to offset any state income collected on Internet purchases. Sen. Thad Altman, R-Viera, said a property tax rebate would be appropriate. The committee will draft a bill for consideration this session. Florida retailers have been fighting for more than a decade for state and federal officials to do something to assure collection of taxes on online purchases. The law technically requires the tax, but it's almost never collected. Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami, who made a living developing shopping centers, said traditional retailers deserve equal footing with online companies but are kidding themselves if they think that there's any way to stem the tide of online commerce.