Florida TaxWatch urges online sales tax collection

According to an editorial in the Gainesville Sun (FL), a nonpartisan Florida think tank has recommended that the state improve out-of-state sales tax collection:

Florida TaxWatch, a business-backed, nonpartisan think tank, has recommended that the state improve tax collection on remote sales from out-of-state mail-order, phone-order and Internet businesses.

“It’s not a new tax. It’s a tax that’s been on the books since the 1960s,” TaxWatch CEO Dominic Calabro says.

TaxWatch estimates Florida could collect $35 million to $50 million a year even without approval of pending federal legislation intended to facilitate remote sales tax collections by the states.

“By not collecting it,” he said, “we are putting our own brick-and-mortar retailers and their employees at a 6 percent to 8.5 percent cost disadvantage.”

The article suggests that the Main Street Fairness Act “does not appear imminent,” but we disagree—we believe it will be introduced in the next month or so. But we are glad to see the editorial recommend that Florida join the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement:

In the meantime, Florida should join with other states in the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement. That would allow Florida to collect sales taxes from sellers already voluntarily making payments to states participating in the agreement.

Although the editorial doesn’t mention it, by joining SSUTA Florida would also make it easier for retailers to collect multistate sales tax—it’s a move that benefits both states and businesses.

While we’re glad to see states support online sales tax collection and we hope they do join SSUTA, we continue to believe that the best thing state lawmakers can do is contact their delegation in Congress and let them know how urgently federal legislation is needed.

States can only do so much on their own; to truly level the playing field between online and offline retailers and make collecting sales tax easier for multistate retailers everywhere, federal legislation is necessary.

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