Bill Proposes Collection of Out-of-State Online Sales Taxes - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Florida Bill Proposes Collection of Out-of-State Online Sales Taxes

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Millions across the state of Florida shop online for its "browse-from-your-couch convenience" and, of course, the bargains. Often, no state sales tax is collected on your purchases, but one proposed Senate Bill is looking to change that.

It gets down to following the law. Most have no idea that the sales tax that they don't pay online to out-of-state businesses should be voluntarily turned over to the Florida Department of Revenue.

Most don't do it, prompting law makers to make sure the State gets what it's owed.

"I support the bill," said Senator Bill Montford about Senate Bill 88

The proposed bill requires state sales tax to be collected from online purchases, even from out-of-state retailers.

"If a business in Bay County or any other county in Florida collects that tax, then the businesses who operate on the Internet should collect it as well," said Montford.

Retailers like Target don't count, even though they sale online, because they have big box stores within the state.

Online retailers like Amazon.com can generally escape the collection of sales tax because they don't have a physical presence in the state of Florida.

"The tax is owed already, so this is not a new tax," said Montford.

In fact, it's state law for citizens to voluntarily give that sales tax to the state; something that doesn't sit well with some.

I like cheaper products, so I'd appreciate if they didn't," said one Bay County resident.

"My grandfather said it best: you don't volunteer for something that you don't know nothing about," added another.

It's where this law would come in; doing away with this virtual honor system and ensuring that those taxes are collected.

A 2011 Report shows the state was unable to capture over $450 million dollars in sales tax revenue due to online sales.

"Our citizens deserve to reap the benefits of those sales," said Montford.

The benefits could be dramatic. Montford said to the hundreds of millions and quite possibly a billion, but he emphasized this is not a tax hike.

"Can you imagine what the state of Florida could do with that money," asked Montford.

State lawmakers have said the move would require a more streamlined plan to enforce the tax collection. Currently 33 other States nationwide have adopted a similar tax collection.