Florida: Close the Internet Sales Tax Loophole
- Feb 17, 2014 | Gail Cole
Each year, the Florida Chamber of Commerce releases a list of priorities for the upcoming legislative session. This year’s list highlights long-term strategies that will strengthen the economy of the Sunshine State through increased jobs, improved education, and a strong business climate. Targeted tax reform, which includes closing the loophole on internet sales tax, is also on the list.
The time is now ... again
This is not new. In January of 2013, the Chamber of Commerce declared, “The time for internet sales tax fairness is now.” During the last session, the Chamber supported online sales tax legislation that would protect “Florida’s brick and mortar businesses by closing the internet sales tax loophole, while not creating a new tax.” The bills sought to discourage “out-of-state online retail giants and the government from determining winners and losers through unfair tax policies.” Yet as noted in its 2013 Legislative Summary, those bills did not pass. Indeed, the Chamber fairly shouts that the issue of e-fairness is “unfinished business.”
No surprise, then, that an online sales tax has made the Chamber’s “to do” list again this year (Where We Stand). Its statement on the issue is short and sweet: to drive “a fair and equitable system,” it would limit “burdensome taxes and [create] equality in Florida’s tax system.” This could be achieved through “targeted tax reform in areas such as commercial property lease taxes, communications services taxes and closing the Internet sales tax loophole” (emphasis mine).
The Chamber of Commerce recently made public these goals, on the same day that Republican lawmakers shared their legislative agenda with business leaders. They were well received. House Speaker Will Weatherford (R) reportedly told representatives from the Chamber that 90% of the time, “it feels like our agenda is your agenda, maybe more than that.”
Florida lawmakers are certainly familiar with the issue of online sales tax. Eight bills on online sales tax were introduced last year. They all died.
The next Streamlined Sales Tax state?
Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement. As an SST state, Florida would comply with certain sales tax simplification measures and encourage remote sellers to collect and remit Florida sales tax. This would put Florida in a strong position to take advantage of federal legislation like the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 (MFA), should it become law. MFA, which was approved by the Senate last year, would allow states with simplified tax laws to require certain remote sellers to collect sales tax on their behalf.
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