Sales tax push for Internet sales

Taxwatch pushing to pass Main-street Fairness Act


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Sales at brick and mortar stores are flat or rising only slowly, while online sales are growing by double digits every year. That growth has the states largest businesses writing their representatives in Congress.

The legislation, as currently written, would exempt businesses with sales of less than $1 million from collecting the tax.

In Tallahassee there is a new push to collect taxes off internet sales and Florida U.S. senators are split.

Almost $6 of every $100 spent by consumers is spent online. The state's biggest businesses and the non-partisan government watchdog, Florida Taxwatch, are calling on Florida's congressmen and women to pass the Main-street Fairness Act.

Taxwatch says the measure will allow states to collect the tax they are already owed.

"They actually don't realize that those taxes are due and they are supposed to send those in to the state. However, few people do," said Dr. Jerry Parish of Florida Taxwatch.

The legislation already cleared the U.S. Senate. Bill Nelson voted yes, Marco Rubio, no.

A new study by former Jeb Bush Budget Director Donna Arduin said Florida could reap $34 billion over 10 years that would create more than 107,000 jobs, if the money is spent wisely.

Brick and mortar stores support the collection almost unanimously.

"If congress passes this bill, this gives states another tool to get those sales taxes back under control," said Leslie Fox of the International Council of Shopping Centers. "They can choose to lower income tax rates, they can choose to lower sales tax rates."

But FSU Economic Professor Randall Holcombe said collecting the tax challenges the premise of existing sales tax laws.

"It's collected in the jurisdiction of the seller, not of the buyer, so if I go to California to buy something, I pay California sales tax," said Holcombe.

A committee hearing in the U.S. House on the tax collection is expected this fall.