State Wants Sales Tax On Your Online Purchases

November 30, 2010

Many Floridians made purchases over the long Thanksgiving weekend, but many did not pay sales tax. And that has the attention of Florida lawmakers.

With Florida facing a $2.5 billion budget gap, rising Internet sales over the Thanksgiving holiday renewed calls Monday for the state to join others looking to make it easier to collect sales taxes from out-of-state and mail-order merchants.

Retail sales reached $45 billion nationally over Thanksgiving weekend, a $4 billion boost over 2009 levels. But equally remarkable, analysts said, was that the proportion of online sales rose to one-third of the holiday total, the highest ever, according to the National Retail Federation.

Monday — promoted as CyberMonday — the past five years by the Retail Federation, was expected to drive another round of heavy online sales.

But with many of these transactions not subject to state sales taxes, Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, said Monday the trend bolstered her push for Florida to join the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, which currently includes 24 states pushing to collect tax on remote sales.

Rehwinkel Vasilinda said the state would likely lose about $10 million in uncollected sales tax Monday, alone.

“Ten million dollars would hire at least 300 new teachers, help our universities remain competitive, create incentives for bringing jobs to Florida, or for much needed social services still reeling from an almost 12 percent unemployment rate,” she said.

Online retailers that also have brick-and-mortar stores, such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy, are required to collect Florida’s 6 percent state sales-tax online. But Rehwinkel Vasilinda, who is backed by Florida TaxWatch and the Florida Retail Federation, say a huge number of purchases also come from such online-only retailers as Amazon and eBay, who are not required to collect.

“We’ve certainly got a lot of needs in this state and as we shift more to e-commerce, our tax structure should, too,” said Robert Weissert, a Florida TaxWatch spokesman. “Internet sales give a competitive advantage to some companies over other stores and businesses that do the bulk of hiring in this state. That’s something we should keep in mind, too, when we have more than 1 million people unemployed.”

States began working on the sales tax agreement in response to a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Internet sellers, mail-order merchants and other “remote” sellers cannot be required to collect sales tax from out-of-state customers unless they have a physical presence in the customer’s state. The court held that sales tax systems across the country were too complicated for a merchant to know what tax to charge, otherwise. The multi-state compact provides a uniform set of rules to streamline collection and more than 1,000 retailers have begun remitting tax to participating states.

More important, though, supporters say increasing the number of states involved would nudge Congress toward clearing the way for Internet taxation.

Rehwinkel Vasilinda and Sens. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, and Nancy Detert, R-Venice, have proposed sales-tax legislation in recent years – but the measures have drawn little traction in a Legislature where many see the step as a tax increase. Rehwinkel Vasilinda said she will sponsor a bill again this year, although House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, and Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, have shown no interest.

“Florida has many needs and letting revenue already owed to the state slip through our fingers is simply not good business,” she said.

By John Kennedy
The News Service Florida


7 Responses to “State Wants Sales Tax On Your Online Purchases”

  1. JohnMolino on December 2nd, 2010 11:36 pm

    Typical leftist liberal thinking that our money is their money. The TSA could do well to learn from the democrats in our country, they have had their hands in our pockets for years.

  2. MAKO on November 30th, 2010 9:33 pm


  3. Dan on November 30th, 2010 1:43 pm

    Hey YOU WHO:

    Charlie “the Rino traitor” Crist is still the Governor until
    next January. Rick Scott is spending a lot of time on
    doing homework to make Florida a better state.

    Why don’t you wait to judge Scott until he’s been in
    office for at least a year.


  4. You Who on November 30th, 2010 7:32 am

    Our big brother (The Government) wants more money. I thought Gov Scott was for downsizing the Government. When they cut all them high paying non needed jobs there will be plenty of money for more schools and such. Government is always making more laws that stack on top of existing laws and just end up costing us (The Taxpayer) more money. Look at the new sign law about making all the signs 6″ letters as opposed to 4″ and what that will cost the taxpayer of this state. I wonder who’s son/daughter owns a sign business. Until we change our Government and make it honest and hold itself accountable for the waste, we as a country are doomed. And when we do get that fixed then we sure need to gey heathcare under control. The cost are running rampant and will soon take everything we worked for away just to be heathy

  5. ABC on November 30th, 2010 7:25 am

    Amen Bigbill, cant count how many companies proposed coming to our area in the past 50 years. But of course politics in ” Pensacola ” is for ” tourists”..Bullhockey, Tourists arent feeding our children and families but when they are here they pad the pockets of the already rich and provide menial jobs for menial pay to the rest of the citizenry that needs work…
    Not been a lot of hotel and motel rooms occupied lately…………………………………..

  6. amen on November 30th, 2010 2:23 am

    Thank you. They always cry about tax revenue, but look how they spend what they already get from us!!!

  7. bigbill1961 on November 30th, 2010 12:23 am

    Rehwinkel Vasilinda said the state would likely lose about $10 million in uncollected sales tax Monday, alone.

    “Ten million dollars would hire at least 300 new teachers, help our universities remain competitive, create incentives for bringing jobs to Florida, or for much needed social services still reeling from an almost 12 percent unemployment rate,” she said.

    Well, Mizz Vasilinda, if it’s jobs you say you want, how about enticing AMERICAN manufacturers to come to NW Florida, so we can buy less foreign products? Then you can stop bilking your constituents for more tax dollars. That way, we will have more money to spend on AMERICAN goods. Wow, what a concept, beginning the process of making the good ole USA self-sufficient again.

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