TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Floridians who do their shopping on Amazon.com have begun paying the state sales tax after Amazon was forced to start collecting once they began building two warehouses within the state.
Congress is currently considering legislation that would require anyone with sales of $2 million or more to begin collecting state sales taxes.
The state took a big step forward in collecting taxes from Internet sales this month, and those who don't shop at Amazon will still have to fill a form to voluntarily pay the tax. Brick and mortar retailers say its about time.
"It's a good thing," said Rick McAllister, with Florida Retail Federation. "It's past due, and now we've got to get the other thousands of companies who are still not collecting the taxes to do the same."
Now that Amazon has a presence within the state, they are legally required -- just like any big box store -- to collect the sales taxes on Florida purchases.
Getting Amazon to collect is only the beginning. The state is leaving millions on the table that most online merchants aren't collecting.
"Well, in all, substantially, (we're) somewhere around $400 million up," McAllister said. "Could be (up to $1 billion). We're hoping Amazon is somewhere around $80 to $100 million. Could be more."
Floridians shopping online everywhere except Amazon are still legally required to fill out a form and voluntarily pay the tax -- few do.
As early as 1999, the state's revenue director was sounding the alarm that one day online sales would erode the state's tax base.
"The percentage of the state's gross domestic product that is taxable has been shrinking steadily, while the state has in fact been growing in population," said former State Revenue Director Larry Fuchs.
Retailers say the state could lower the tax rate if everything owed was being collected.