Florida law requires residents to report and pay the sales taxes they own on items purchased from mail order catalogs or the internet.
Few do, but a recent US Supreme Court decision cleared the way for out of state businesses to begin the collections, but the change would require legislative approval.
Buy something on the internet from Amazon or any company that has a physical presence in Florida, and you are charged sales tax, but buy from some company with no store front in the state, and state law shifts the burden to report and pay the tax to the purchasers.
We asked internet shopper Quincy Davis Internet Shopper if he knew what the DR-15MO form was.
“Out of state purchase return,” said Davis. “What’s this?”
You’re supposed to fill out the form when you make an online purchase.
When newly elected state lawmakers were briefed on the system
Some had the same reaction, asking how the state would collect the taxes owed from purchasers.
“If she owes the use tax, and is willing to send the money into the Department of Revenue, that would be one way. It’s probably not the most common way,” said House Ways and Means Staff Director Dr. Don Langston.
A recent US Supreme Court decision overruled an earlier case.
It said computers no longer make it too big of a burden on businesses to figure out and charge tax no matter where you are.
“This is very serious. This is something that’s vital, obviously for our retailers going forward,” said James Miller with the Florida Retail Federation. “Every company has an advantage outside of Florida right now. Most of them do at least. And we’re getting killed by companies particularly.”
The big political roadblock in the state Capitol is that policy makers don’t want to get tagged with raising taxes.
Even though they wouldn’t be doing that , they’d just be collecting taxes already owed.
Making the change could bring as much as seven hundred million a year to the state treasury.
If lawmakers move forward in collecting the tax, one idea being talked about is to cut a like amount of other taxes, so no one can accuse them of raising taxes during the next campaign.