Florida may seek internet tax collections

Published: Jan. 14, 2019 at 5:55 PM CST
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Florida law requires residents to report and pay the sales taxes they own on items purchased from mail order catalogs or the internet. Few residents actually do this, but a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision cleared the way for out of state businesses to begin the collections, but the change would require legislative approval.

If you buy something on the internet from Amazon or any company that has a physical presence in Florida, you are charged sales tax, but if you buy from a company with no store front in the state, state law shifts the burden to report and pay the tax to the purchasers.

We asked internet shopper Quincy Davis if he knew what the DR-15MO form was. “Out of state purchase return," said Davis. "What’s this?”

Many do not know that you are supposed to fill out the form when you make an online purchase. When newly elected state lawmakers were briefed on the system, some had the same reaction, asking how the state would collect the taxes owed from purchasers.

An earlier case of this nature was recently overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court. The case said computers no longer make it too big of a burden on businesses to figure out and charge tax no matter where you are.

"This is very serious. This is something that’s vital, obviously for our retailers going forward," said James Miller with the Florida Retail Federation. "Every company has an advantage outside of Florida right now. Most of them do at least. And we’re getting killed by companies particularly.”

The big political roadblock in the state Capitol is that policy makers don’t want to get tagged with raising taxes. What they do not realize is that they would not be doing that, they would just be collecting taxes already owed. Making the change could bring as much as seven hundred million a year to the state treasury. If lawmakers move forward in collecting the tax, one idea being talked about is to cut a like amount of other taxes, so no one can accuse them of raising taxes during the next campaign.