By Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis late Monday signed into law a plan to require out-of-state online retailers to collect sales taxes on purchases made by Floridians, with the estimated $1 billion a year in revenue going to curb a pair of taxes on Florida businesses.
While the proposal (SB 50) was widely supported by Tallahassee business groups, DeSantis’ signature came with far less fanfare than when he appeared Monday morning in Polk County to sign a controversial bill (HB 1) about cracking down on violent protests.
During the Polk County appearance, DeSantis was flanked by Republican lawmakers and unformed law-enforcement officers. But the signing of the online sales-tax bill was announced by the governor’s office just before 11:30 p.m. in an email without comment. The bill was one of five measures DeSantis signed Monday, including the protest bill.
DeSantis faced a Monday deadline for signing, vetoing or letting the online tax bill become law without his signature.
Florida business groups have lobbied for years to require out-of-state retailers to collect and remit sales taxes, saying it is a matter of fairness. But past proposals failed because of concerns by Republicans that they could be viewed as increasing taxes on consumers.
Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation, said in a statement that the law creates a “level playing field” for all businesses. The sales-tax revenue will be used to replenish a depleted unemployment trust fund and then will go toward reducing a commercial rent tax.
“The tax cut on business rent is an added bonus,” Shalley said.. “With this cost-savings, Florida businesses across all sectors of the economy can reinvest in their community, create jobs and grow their businesses.”
Retailers that have a “physical presence” in Florida are already required to collect and remit sales taxes, But retailers without such a presence haven’t faced the requirement when they make sales to Floridians, who have been technically supposed to send in sales taxes on their purchases — though few do.
Proponents of the bill maintained that requiring collection isn’t a tax increase and that Florida retailers have been hurt by out-of-state businesses being able to sell products with tacking on taxes.
“We’ve created an unfair competitive advantage for foreign players and out-of-state retailers on the backs of our local retailers,” Senate sponsor Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, said last month.
But Democrats argued that working Floridians will be hurt by the proposal because of “regressive” sales taxes. The final package was approved 27-12 by the Senate and 93-24 in the House.
“Governor just signed a bill into law to increase your taxes and give the new revenue of $1 billion to businesses,” Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, tweeted after the bill signing was announced.
The bill is estimated to produce an estimated $1 billion a year, with the money first earmarked for the unemployment trust fund, which became depleted because of massive job losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses pay taxes that go into the trust fund and, without another source of money, would have faced higher taxes to replenish the fund.
Before the pandemic, businesses paid $7 per employee in unemployment taxes. The rate went to $49 this year and could have jumped to $87.
After the fund is replenished, the revenue will be used to make a major cut in the commercial-rent tax, long a target of business lobbying groups. Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, and House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, agreed to reduce the commercial rent tax from 5.5 percent to 2 percent.
The “Governor just signed a bill into law to increase your taxes and give the new revenue of $1 billion to businesses,”
Right. The Republicans think “socialism” is perfectly OK for business as they use a tax on you to reduce the unemployment taxes they pay.
Socialism isn’t OK for you though.
The Republicans are the home of people like Rick Scott whose company steals from Medicare–you know, money for the poor and elderly so he can run for the governor’s office, now US senate.
The only question is: Who is dumb enough to vote for the Republicans?
Even if It does produce a billion a year, that’s a billion a year not in floridians pockets and instead in govts. That’s bad.
“The bill is estimated to produce an estimated $1 billion a year,”…………….. Don’t you just love it when they tell us this? I would love to see follow up reports on ALL of the Bills, Agendas and Laws that were passed over the last 10 Years that should have brought in $Millions & $Billions a Year. Did they Fail? Did the actually do as promised? We may never know until someone investigates. It would be very cool if TR would do a Report next year on this Bill and report back in June of next year.
Jim Turner needs to learn to spell… “unformed law enforcement officers”???
The Democrats have no reason to oppose this, they should have done this a long time ago. They are embarrassed.
Governor Ron DeSantis best governor in America!
I don’t get you people sometimes.
Yes Ray. No one pays that tax. The state can’t Audit a company in another state nor can they audit me to make sure I pay a tax on some out of state purchase. My purchases are private . I don’t think they can even enforce this new tax. It’s pointless and bad for Florida. Now other states will do the same thing to Florida business. End result more taxes. So not only do we have income tax payroll tax property tax sales tax state sales tax local, all sort of other fees. Now I have to pay even more tax. For what? What I am I getting?
I have no issues with this move. It’s the right thing to do.
I support a fair playing field.
However, if the State/Local Governments aggressively pursued enforcing payment of all the existing taxes/fees/ fines, etc. that are not paid by “cheaters”. The need for additional taxes, as well as raising existing taxes, could be reduced.
Here are a few other ideas to increase revenue:
Church’s should pay property tax for all property owned except for that property located within the footprint of the existing church sanctuary where services are held.
The $25,000 property tax exemption should apply after the first $10,000 value is taxed and that amount should be a flat rate like $250.
Taxes on tobacco products like cigarettes should be at least doubled.
Canabis/Mushrooms/Prostitution should be legalized and heavily taxed.
Keep in mind what you read above is from The News Service of Florida. A leftist leaning organization which uses its journalistic status to paint conservatives in as much shade and shadow as possable while trying to appear professional at the same time they try to sway the reader to the left.
The tax is fair DeSantis did the right thing by signing it into law.
Jon, did you even read the article? You were already required to pay sales tax. It’s not a new tax. You can bet FDOR audits for sales tax, they probably just didn’t care about your $10 online purchase.
Great , now I have to pay even more taxes.
One step fwd, two back for Desantis.
I remember way back in the mid 80’s when I owned “TALLAHASSEE MUSTANGS, Inc.”, We charged Tax on our sales, I think it was .05% at the time (today it is .075%) and if we paid our taxes in by a certain date, we got to keep a small percentage of that Tax. I think now, you just have to pay it all by a certain date or be fined.