TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Most people are used to paying that extra bit of money in sales tax when they go shopping. But, online, Floridians have been skirting around that for decades.
“It’s not a new tax, it’s a tax quite frankly that’s been owed to every citizen in Florida and has gone uncollected,” said Nicholas Glover, the Vice President of Advocacy for the Tampa Bay Chamber.
For example — let’s say you buy something from a store in another state online you’re in charge of setting aside and filing that sales tax but most don’t even know that. The state estimates it’s losing out on nearly a billion dollars a year.
“It matters in Florida in particular because as you know we don’t have a state income tax. So we are disproportionately impacted because we rely so heavily on sales tax.”
It’s why Florida lawmakers passed a bill that would require collecting sales tax on all online purchases — and it’s widely supported. Dr. Rich Templin, the director of politics and public policy for a state-wide group representing labor unions has been on board for years.
But, what he says their group does not support is where billions of this revenue will go — the unemployment fund.
“You now have working people funding the unemployment insurance system, which is the responsibility of the business community to fund. But now working families are doing it and it’s a system that fails them over and over again,” said Dr. Rich Templin, the Director of Politics and Policy for the Florida AFL-CIO.
He says the money will be used for general revenue after the unemployment fund reaches a cap of $4 billion, which is what it sat at pre-pandemic. Right now, businesses across the state pay $7 per employee into that fund and he says that hasn’t gone up in decades and says this new law will keep it that way.
“For years when we’ve been trying to close this loophole if you will to collect that tax, for years the Chamber of Commerce as opposed to this,” Templin said. “The only reason for the support this time is because they know that money is bailing them out.”
“We can debate whether it should be used for the unemployment system or other things,” said Glover. “That thought process is understandable, I don’t have a position one way or another on it but I do know for the purposes of collecting the tax to make our revenue at the state Florida whole this is a very important first step."
The law takes effect July 1, 2021.
For a full list of states with internet sales tax, click here.