Florida is missing out on anywhere between $800 million and $450 million in uncollected sales tax from online sales, but because the state is not enforcing sales tax laws, all the state has is estimates for how much money it's missing.
The Florida Department of Revenue provides a form online for residents to fill out and declare what they bought online and then pay the sales tax. Not only do most people not know this form exists, there is no enforcement for people who choose not to pay the tax.
"I do all of my shopping
Shoppers like Mel are in the overwhelming majority in Florida.
"We just need to modernize our
Florida Tax Watch estimates in its 2013
"Look how many jobs we're hurting in Florida for the brick-and mortar-retailers," says Calabro.
Online retailer Amazon.com, which reported $61 billion in sales in 2012, does not charge sales tax in
Once it is constructed, the retail giant will begin collecting and remitting sales tax. But unless the state acts, other online retailers with physical locations outside of Florida will not charge sales tax to Florida residents.
Florida Tax Watch says even with modest tax returns from online sales, the state could lower taxes in other areas, providing a level playing field for all businesses while not increasing the overall tax burden on residents.
But Florida can't act alone. The federal Marketplace Fairness Act has been floundering in the U.S. House of Representatives for months. The Marketplace Fairness Act would give states the authority to collect sales tax from retailers even without a physical presence or nexus in the state, as long as they are part of the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement. The Florida Legislature still needs to pass legislation to fully bring the state into the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, along with 44 other states. Once this standard is met, the state can collect the taxes.
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