Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Florida Poised to Pass an Internet Sales Tax?

According to an estimate by the National Conference of State Legislatures, Florida is projected to lose more than $1.4 billion in revenue in 2012 due to the online sales tax loophole. Florida policymakers are considering an “e-tax” law.

If any of the pending online sales tax bills make their way through the redistricting-focused legislative session this year, Florida would join the growing group of states that collect sales taxes on all Internet retailers.

As the law currently stands, only companies with a physical presence (a store, or warehouse) in Florida must pay the state’s 6 percent sales tax.

Trade groups representing business interests have converged on the Capitol this year to push for bills that would pressure online retailers on taxes.

At least three different e-tax bills are in play in Tallahassee — although it will be tougher to pass many laws this year, due to a budget shortfall and the once-a-decade task of redrawing the state’s political districts. There are also small-government activists who claim the bills would create a de facto tax increase on consumers at a time of high unemployment and economic hardship.

Since 1993, the department has run a program where it randomly inspects records of large trucks shipping goods along Florida’s major interstate highways. The department will then a letter to a Florida Resident Purchaser asking them to pay on their out of state purchase. Current law requires consumers to self-enforce the sales tax on their online purchases, but hardly anyone does so.

In Florida, the push to collect taxes from Internet retailers started nearly 10 years ago, but several bills have died in the Legislature. But this may change in Florida, as states across the country seek to boost local businesses and increase tax revenue by going after online retail giants like Amazon and Overstock.com.

After New York passed an online sales tax law in 2008, at least eight other states have followed suit, including five in the past year. This month, Indiana’s government inked a deal with Amazon in which the retailer will begin collecting sales tax in 2014.

Gov. Rick Scott said he could sign an e-tax bill if it included an equal-sized tax cut. One idea is an additional or expanded sales tax holiday for shoppers.

For more on this go to: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/01/16/2592761/tallahassee-battle-lines-drawn.html

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