Internet sales tax bill filed in Florida legislature

Published On: Dec 03 2012 04:45:16 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 03 2012 05:00:20 PM EST

This may be the last holiday shopping season that online retailers aren't required to charge Florida shoppers state sales tax.

A bill filed in Tallahassee would allow the state to begin collecting the 6-cent tax from online shops.

Currently, online retailers without locations in Florida don't have to collect state sales tax. But that could soon change, with state Sen. Gwen Margolis bill filing.

"Our whole revenue source is sales tax in the state of Florida," Margolis said in a phone interview Monday. "The state of Florida is losing jobs and money because people have been shopping online all year."

The state's cut is 6 cents on the dollar. That means when online retailers don't collect the tax, they can offer their customers lower prices than their brick and mortar competitors.

The disadvantage has caught the ire of the Florida Retail Federation.

"Let's move on. Let's quit competing unfairly based on a tax. That's not what you do," said Rick McAllister, of the federation.

This is the sixth year the bill has been filed in Tallahassee, and sponsors believe its time has come. Support among lawmakers is growing, but concerns remain over whether or not collecting the money owed can be considered a tax increase.

Senate President Don Gaetz is against the bill, but says if it were to pass, he'd like to see other taxes decreased to keep the collection revenue neutral.

"I certainly, as one senator, would insist on some kind of tax reduction for the very people whose taxes would be increased," Gaetz said.

It's unclear exactly how much money could be collected if the bill passes. Some economists put the annual figure in the $100 million to $1 billion range.

Even though some online stores don't charge sales tax, the buyer still owes it, but last year just 7,000 online shoppers mailed a check to the Florida Department of Revenue.


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