TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - On Tuesday, a Senate committee passed a bill that would require out-of-state internet retailers to collect sales taxes, even if they don't have stores in Florida.
Currently, online retailers like Amazon do not collect sales taxes from Floridians because they don't have a physical location in the state.
Florida retailers say that puts them at a competitive disadvantage.
Even if stores charged the same price as Amazon, the charge ends up 6 or 7 percent more because of sales taxes.
Randy Miller from the Florida Retail Federation said, "They are not being able to compete with the big guy because they can give them an automatic six to seven-and-a-half percent discount just on tax. If they match the price, they still cannot compete."
Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, has sponsored a bill that would eliminate that advantage for internet-only retailers.
"The world has changed and it really is e-fairness. It's tax reform. It's just new, new, new. We have to look at things in a whole new way and I think we've come up with a perfect blend to have a different kind of tax and then have that money generated back to job creation," Detert said.
The idea has been around for more than a decade, but lawmakers shied away from it because some called it a tax hike. Collecting online sales taxes would raise at least an extra $400 million for the state of Florida.
Detert said her bill is cash-neutral. It would take the extra sales tax collections and return the cash to businesses and consumers.
Brewster Bevis with the Associated Industries of Florida said, "Creating a level playing field not only helps Florida's employers. More importantly, it protects employees – those employees that bring paychecks home to support their families."
The bill still must pass votes in three more committees before it can get to the Senate floor for debate.