According to an article in the Orlando Sentinel, the Florida State Senate has passed a measure that would allow Florida to join the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSUTA). We blogged about the introduction of the measure here.
The author of the article spoke to the sole senator who voted against the measure:
Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, the sole vote against the measure in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee, said she was uncomfortable voting for the bill because it was adding another tax to Floridians.
This is a frequent misconception. We’re happy to reassure Sen. Flores that joining SSUTA does not mean creating a new tax or raising existing taxes.
Sales tax is already due on most online purchases; when the online retailer doesn’t collect it, by law the consumer is supposed to calculate the correct amount of tax due and send it to the state with their tax returns. In practice, however, few consumers do. Estimates are that last year alone, uncollected sales tax on online purchases in Florida reached $608.2 million.
By joining SSUTA, Florida would lay the groundwork for requiring all online retailers to collect sales tax. Although collecting sales tax is voluntary right now for online retailers without a physical presence in the state, federal legislation is in the works that would allow all SSUTA member states to require online retailers to collect sales tax.
Becoming a SSUTA member state is also the first step toward leveling the playing field for local Florida retailers, which have to collect sales tax while online retailers don’t. In addition, joining SSUTA would send a message to Washington, DC, that it’s time for federal legislation that allows states to require all online retailers to collect sales tax.
We’re excited that the Florida Senate has approved the measure, and we hope to hear soon that the House has, too!