Momentum gaining for Fla. online sales tax bill

(CNN Image)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For 12 years, Florida retailers have been pushing legislation they call e-Fairness.

Their mission: Require online stores based outside the state to collect the same 6-cent sales tax they're required to charge customers.

"It's been a lingering problem," Randy Miller said. "It's only gotten bigger and bigger."

The movement is gaining momentum and could become law this summer.

"The Florida Chamber (of Commerce) fully supports this e-Fairness bill," said David Hart, of the chamber.

"I don't see this as a tax increase. I see it as a collection of a tax that's been owed," said John Newman, of International Council of Shopping Centers.

Several bills have been filed. One has already passed a Senate committee.

"It really does seem like the stars have aligned on this issue," said John Fleming, of the Florida Retail Federation.

Fleming said what's different this year from years past is the Senate president, House speaker and Gov. Rick Scott are all open to an e-Fairness bill.

"The governor has said he could ultimately sign a bill if it were presented to him as a revenue neutral bill, and I think that's ultimately what he's going to get on his desk," Fleming said.

Revenue neutral means for every dollar of online sales tax collected, a dollar of another would have to be cut.

Lawmakers are considering several measures to make the bill revenue neutral. One way is to eliminate the sales tax on manufacturing equipment. Another plan in the works would offer a sales tax holiday to shoppers statewide to offset the money generated by the online tax.