Amazon will add sales tax to Florida purchases starting May 1

Shoppers can still avoid Amazon sales tax

Stefanie Beddingfield, owner of Inkwood Books in South Tampa, thinks Florida's move to collect sales tax from Amazon purchases strikes a blow for fairness.
 
"It's progress in that they have to pay the same tax that we do" said Beddingfield.
 
So-called “brick and mortar” store owners in Florida have always had to collect state and local sales tax from their customers while online competitors out of state do not, in effect offering an automatic discount that amounts to 7 percent in most Tampa Bay area counties.
 
But when Amazon built two warehouse facilities in the state, one in Lakeland, another under construction in Ruskin, they became subject to Florida tax law.  It's estimated the state will collect an extra $80 million in the first year.
 
The news isn't so good for Amazon.
 
An Ohio State University study released this week found that when Amazon expanded into other states like California and Texas, their sales went down by an average of 10 percent compared to states where the company did not have to add sales tax.  
 
At the same time, brick and mortar stores saw a modest increase in sales of 2 percent. When it came to more expensive items like appliances, sales at local stores went up 6 percent.
 
But there is a way for Florida shoppers to avoid the tax.
 
A Cuisinart coffee maker on Amazon's site will cost you an extra $5.40 in sales tax starting May first. But if you buy it through one of Amazon's many marketplace sellers that list the same item at the same price, there will be no tax as long as that Amazon Marketplace seller is located entirely out of state.
 
Either way, Beddingfield said her customers and Amazon's are very different people.
 
"A customer who sees $16.99 for a paperback says it's worth it, and I'm going to support you because you give to our schools and give baskets to my kids and know my grandchildren and you know what I read last," she said.
 
Shoppers should keep in mind that Florida law requires that you self-report any of your out-of-state purchases that didn’t include sales tax and voluntarily pay.
 
Very few Floridians do.
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