By: Mike Vasilinda
September 10, 2013
Most of us have driven past Agricultural Inspection stations on the interstate. Their mission is to protect Florida Agriculture from pests, but they are also paying a dividend for taxpayers.
Every truck entering Florida is inspected at stations like this one on Interstate Ten in Live Oak. In additional to looking for food, plant products that might be bad, agents are inspecting bills of lading. “We’re inspecting and making sure, see where it’s coming from,” says Joshua Glass, Agricultural Agent.
Under state law, items brought into the state are subject to the sales and use tax. “This truck company is probably hauling some building materials that’s coming in from out of state,” says Capt. John Boatwright, Dept of Agriculture.
There is no shortage of people skirting the law. 800 to 1,000 times a week, information on cargo is sent to the Department of Revenue. “There is a lot of furniture, they have two specialists dedicated only to furniture,” says Capt. Boatwright.
The program started as a pilot in 1991. Collections last year were 12 million dollars. “We have collected 203 million 844,000 dollars,” says Capt. Boatwright.
The taxes collected as a result of these inspection means Floridians didn’t have to pay higher taxes somewhere else, or see programs cut
In additional to collecting money the state is owed, agents here also feel like they are helping Florida businesses compete. “Keep these out of state companies from coming in and under cutting them by the six percent sales tax, you know, when they bid on a job,” says Capt. Boatwright.
The Department of Revenue says when it contacts people and the law is explained, more than 99 percent pay the tax they owe without a fight.