Online shopping costing state money
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – It's Cyber Monday, which means shoppers' credit cards might need a break by now. But all of the online transactions could actually be costing the state some money.
Sales tax collected from Amazon.com alone is expected to be around the $100 million mark.
James Miller, with the Florida Retail Federation, said retailers have high hopes for business with Black Friday having just passed and the holiday shopping season going into full swing.
“All the numbers so far, the preliminary numbers, show that it was a strong Black Friday," Miller said. "We expect Cyber Monday to be equally huge. It doesn't change our perspective that there's going to be an increase of 4.5 or 5 percent for Florida in terms of year over year growth.”
Cyber Monday, the online version of Black Friday, provides another opportunity to boost revenue numbers. But there's a problem. While the deals are great for online shoppers, it's actually the state that could be missing out on big bucks. Sales tax isn't collected on all online transactions.
Robert Weissert, with Florida TaxWatch, said it's supposed to be.
“The cost to the state from this lost sales tax revenue is possibly in the billions of dollars," Wissert said. "If you buy something online and the retailer does not charge you the taxes, it’s your responsibility to send in the money to the Department of Revenue.”
It's up to Floridians to fill out their own sales tax forms when shopping online. The Department of Revenue said they only collected $8.2 million of online sales tax this past year -- a fraction of what could be paid.
“It's a really important issue, not only for total sales tax collection, but also, we're turning regular Floridians into scofflaws," Weissert said. "People are avoiding paying taxes, because they don't know they owe the tax.”
But Florida did cut some of their losses last year. 2014 was the first time the state collected sales tax from online retail giant Amazon.
Click here to find more information about sales tax reporting.
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