Shopping Online - Pay the Sales Tax

Monday is Cyber Monday, considered the start of Internet Christmas season sales.

A third of us are expected to spend at least some money on Christmas presents over the Internet this season. If you are making Internet purchases and don't know what a “DR-15-MO” is, you could be breaking the law.

Online shopping is growing by leaps and bounds. What most people don't know is that online purchases are subject to the state sales tax, as if the money changed hands in a store.

Bill Herrle of the Florida Retail Federation says if the online retailer doesn't collect the tax, then purchasers are supposed to fill out the DR-15-MO form and send the money in.

“All Florida shoppers should be familiar with it if they buy a product and have it shipped to Florida for their use, they’re responsible for paying the sales tax.”

But when we asked the on-liners at a wireless café if they knew about the form and the requirement to the pay tax, we got puzzled looks.

The online police don't exist yet, so unless your conscience bothers you, not filling out the form and paying the tax won't land you in jail.

There are 17 million people in Florida yet just 2,000 forms were filed last year. One estimate has the state losing as much as $1 billion a year.

Florida retailers hope the state will join a coalition of states collecting Internet sales tax for each other, but so far state lawmakers want to leave the Internet alone.

Not all online sales avoid paying Florida sales tax. Online sites for national retailers that have a store in Florida collect the sales tax and pay it like the purchase took place in a store.