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Senators back effort to collect ‘remote' sales taxes

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With the bill’s sponsor saying it would help “level the playing field” for Florida retailers, a Senate committee Monday approved a bill that could help the state collect sales taxes on purchases made over the internet from out-of-state businesses.

The bill (SB 1112) comes after years of debate about efforts to collect sales taxes on such “remote” sales. If out-of-state businesses do not collect Florida sales taxes, the burden has technically fallen on consumers to pay the taxes -- though few do.

A U.S. Supreme Court decision last year in a South Dakota case, however, helped clear the way to collect sales taxes from out-of-state businesses.

Parts of the bill approved Monday by the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee are similar to the South Dakota law. For example, it would require “remote” business to remit sales taxes if they have more than 200 sales a year of property delivered to Florida.

Also, the requirement would apply to businesses that have more than $100,000 in sales of property delivered to Florida.

Committee Chairman Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican who is sponsoring the bill, said it could help Florida retailers who have long complained that they can be at a competitive disadvantage against out-of-state businesses that sell over the internet.

In another move sought by Florida businesses, the bill also would lower a sales tax that is paid on commercial leases.

Gruters is proposing to reduce the tax from 5.7 percent to 4.2 percent.