Florida Considers Internet Sales Tax

Florida State Seal An red flag has been raised by Melanie Seery of Affiliate Advocacy this morning. Her alert brings some worrying news about a new state considering going in the direction of the Internet tax. This time it is the State of Florida, and now the main reason behind the initiative is bolstering education funding.

The Bradenton Herald has more:

Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, said since New York recently led the way in the process, she’s been researching the possibility of Florida joining in…

The Internet sales tax discussion came the same day as government leaders in Tallahassee discussed the long-running money-battle dispute between Florida counties and online hotel booking companies, with no resolution in sight. The Manatee County Commission recently decided to sue some of the companies, including Priceline and Travelocity, in an effort to recoup back taxes.

Detert said it’s unfair that Internet sales aren’t taxed because Florida businesses must charge 7 percent for the same item bought online. “When I asked how much might be collected (from Internet sales tax revenue), I was told it could be $2 billion or more,” she said.

While the focus is currently on the online booking industry, and companies like Expedia, Priceline and Travelocity, Seery says Detern “is continuing to research requiring merchants to collect sales tax on” all online sales.

Florida’s Department of Revenue is retaining neutrality until further clarifications are received from the Legislature, while the Governor is not supportive of the initiative. More from the Brandenton Herald’s article:

The Department of Revenue, the enforcer of the tax laws, has refused to say which side is right and has waited for clear direction from the Legislature, which has refused to act. “For a number of years, we have sort of stood on the sidelines,” said the agency’s executive director Lisa Echeverri.

Gov. Charlie Crist spoke last and characterized the effort to collect money from the online rentals as an additional tax on visitors. “It would concern me if this panel moves in a direction of trying to add an additional burden or tax on those who want to travel to the Sunshine State,” Crist said.

It is time for Florida-based affiliates to start contacting their Senators and Representatives to educate them on the issue, and ensure that those who are representing you, and can influence the decision-making process, know exactly what this means.

5 thoughts on “Florida Considers Internet Sales Tax”

  1. “Unfair”? I love this country & all – would give a .001% chance I’d ever want to move elsewhere, but where did people get the idea business is supposed to be fair? Local business loses a customer to the web, it isn’t the internet’s fault, it is the local-only businesses’ fault for not staying with the times.

    Glad I moved from Florida to SC… for now (insert forbodeicon)

  2. Matt, thank you for your comment.

    Unfortunately, no state is guaranteed to avoid the question of the Internet sales tax altogether. Both the country’s budget, and most every individual state‘s budget is expected to have deficit in 2010. Here’s a relevant chart by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

    Sadly, some legislators view the “Amazon tax” (or, even broader, an Internet sales tax) as a solution to the problem. It is our job to explain and educate — to make sure no anti-business decisions are made along the way.

  3. Florida taxing on the internet is really not fare. The only people that use the internet to order things are people that can not afford to go into a store and buy an item. I would much rather buy an item locally so I could bring it back if I had a problem. So this is just taxing the poorest of the poor. And the 2 billion you think you’re going to get will dwindle down to its hardly worth it. And the poor will just have to do without.

  4. Well it’s April 14th, 2010 and not a word still from them. I won’t let my guard down yet as I”ve already signed The Petition.

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