Florida considers forcing collection of tax on online sales

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Photo: Pexels
Published: Oct. 15, 2019 at 12:59 PM EDT
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By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service

October 15, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- Florida is losing $700 million a year it is already owed on internet sales.

State lawmakers took the first step to begin collecting the money, passing the bill through its first committee Tuesday, but there are concerns over who will benefit from the collections.

A 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision cleared the way for states to start collecting taxes from vendors who make internet sales made into their state.

43 of 45 states with a sales tax jumped on the idea.

“Only us and Missouri. We are falling behind the times and its not fair for anyone in our state,” said Senator Joe Grutuers, who is sponsoring the Senate bill.

In Florida, the payment remains voluntary.

Purchasers must fill out a form and submit a check.

Fewer than 5,000 forms are filed each year.

Retail giant Walmart urged support for the measure.

So did the Florida Conservation Voters.

“We many unmet needs in terms of conservation initiatives, protecting our precious water quality,” said Lindsey Cross with FCV.

Earlier this year, it was the governor who killed the idea because he thought it looked too much like a tax increase, but sponsors have been working on him ever since.

The sponsor and business groups would like to see the $700 million that would be collected go to tax reductions on business rents.

“And I thing we should continue working on eliminating the commercial rent tax,” said Gruters.

The cash is enough to pay for a teacher raises pushed by the governor, but the AFL-CIO is worried the people who pay the tax won’t benefit.

“If we take $700 million from working families that buy things online and turn around and give it to folks, who quite frankly, don’t need a tax cut, That would be really bad for Florida,” said Rich Templin with the AFL-CIO.

The legislation contains an exemption for out of state retailers.

If they sell less than one hundred products or have sales less than $200,000 annually, they do not have to collect Florida sales tax.

As lawmakers sort things out, buyers should beware.

The Department of Revenue has audited some people who failed to report small internet purchases, which is a first for the tax collectors.

By: Associated Press

October 15, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Online sellers would have to automatically collect sales tax from Floridians and submit it to the state under a bill moving in the Florida Senate.

The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee unanimously approved the bill Tuesday.

Republican Sen. Joe Gruters said Florida consumers are required to pay the sales tax, but rarely do so if online sellers don’t collect it.

He said the state would collect about $700 million in revenue if the bill becomes law. He added it would make Florida’s brick and mortar stores more competitive with online retailers.

Florida’s sales tax is 6 percent. The state doesn’t have an income tax.

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