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Your Amazon Holiday Is Over: Giant Starts Collecting Sales Tax in Florida in 2 Weeks

| April 17, 2014

Not taxed enough. (Carl Malamud)

Not taxed enough. (Carl Malamud)

Internet giant Amazon.com will start to collect sales taxes on purchases made by Floridians starting May 1.

For Floridians who are supposed to pay the taxes but haven’t, the announcement of Amazon’s entry into the state’s brick-and-mortar retail landscape could mean about $80 million a year in sales taxes, according to one business lobbying group.

Ty Rogers, a spokesman for the Seattle-based retailer, responded simply in an email on Wednesday that “Amazon will be required to collect sales tax in Florida beginning on May 1.”

The announcement isn’t unexpected as the company is building a pair of massive “fulfillment” centers along the Interstate 4 corridor.

John Fleming, a spokesman for the Florida Retail Federation, said the announcement is probably a sign that Amazon will soon trigger a collection requirement by starting to hire for the year-end holidays, which for retailers begins in September.

“They’re going to have to have employees ready by then,” Fleming said.

The Tampa Bay Times reported Wednesday that Amazon intends to open its new 1.1 million-square-foot warehouse in southeastern Hillsborough County by the end of the year.

The company also is upping its hiring projections for the facility from 1,100 to about 2,500, including seasonal hires, according to the Times.

The Amazon announcement won’t end the drive by some groups to eliminate an exemption that has allowed out-of-state online retailers including Amazon, eBay and Overstock to avoid collecting the taxes.

The Florida Department of Revenue requires online companies to begin collecting sales taxes once a company has a physical presence in the state. That has allowed many out-of-state online retailers, including Amazon, to avoid adding the taxes to online purchases. Floridians are supposed to pay the taxes themselves when they buy from online retailers, but few do.

The Florida Retail Federation, which estimates the state will collect $80 million a year from Amazon sales, has been pushing for years to get Florida to impose what the group calls “e-Fairness” tax laws and Congress to approve what is known as the Marketplace Fairness Act.

Fleming said the current focus leans toward Congress taking action, as the federal act would give states the authority to require online and catalog retailers —- regardless of where they are —- to collect sales taxes at the time of transactions.

Besides, state lawmakers, reluctant to impose new taxes, haven’t shown much interest in e-Fairness efforts despite the lobbying efforts of Florida-based business and retail groups.

Eight bills on the issue died during the 2013 state legislative session, including one that would have offset the additional revenue collected by lowering other taxes.

This year there has been less interest in Tallahassee for e-Fairness.

State economist Amy Baker said an estimated impact of Amazon’s tax collections on Florida’s revenue could be ready this summer. The company was not included in a March forecast by the state Revenue Estimating Committee.

“We discussed it, but felt there was still too much uncertainty — particularly in regard to timing — to make the inclusion at that time,” Baker said in an email.

–News Service of Florida

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11 Responses for “Your Amazon Holiday Is Over: Giant Starts Collecting Sales Tax in Florida in 2 Weeks”

  1. Anonymous says:

    80 million dollars for our crooks in tallahassee to spend on themselves. they will never have enough money. I will still buy on line with free shipping and no hassle with the traffic. many items are still cheaper than local stores and no driving and or dealing with non knowledgeable sales people are big pluses.

  2. The Truth says:

    I’ve been ordering on Amazon for years. I order because of convenience, excellent customer service and fast shipping. I will continue to order from Amazon even though sales tax will now be charged. The prices are still lower than retail stores and you don’t deal with the hassle of rude staff and customers. I won’t let greedy politicians keep me from ordering online.

  3. tulip says:

    I think sales tax should be charged when purchasing online. Keep the tax money in the state the buyer lives in. Physical stores have to charge sales tax and pay it to the state, so should online purchases.

    There will be some people who will moan and groan and threaten not to buy online, etc. but that will pass because there are times when ordering online is more convenient or people find an item they can’t get locally, or they just don’t have the time to shop.

    Keeping the tax money in the counties and states should help improve their financial condition and maybe keep the tax rate lower, or give us more amenties of some sort. In other words, support where you live.

  4. Anonymous says:

    No problem. Just will not buy and save the money, just as businesses for doing.
    All politicians can do in create more and more taxes so they can piddle more and more money away.

  5. Nancy N. says:

    I have mixed feelings about this. As an Amazon Prime customer, it’s a price hike for me – but it will still be way more affordable to buy the things I buy there than anywhere else. Not to mention the selection I get.

    As a business owner who is an Amazon affiliate, I no longer have to worry about losing that income if an affiliate nexus law were to pass in the state. With Amazon already collecting tax, they would have no reason to cut off their affiliates. (The nexus law possibility would still endanger large amounts of my income through non-Amazon programs, however, so it is still of concern to me. I campaigned heavily against this year’s bills and it was a major relief when they died.)

  6. Florida Native. says:

    I love Amazon.com and order off of this site on a regular basis and have the items shipped to my front door in a few days. I don’t have to fight traffic or wait in lines or deal with rude sales clerks. I don’t have to go through the intersections with red light cameras to get to target or Walmart in Palm Coast and you can get to neither without dealing with those pesky spy cams. If it’s taxes to Amazon or taxes to Walmart or Target I’ll gladly give it to Amazon. They don’t have red light spy cameras and they won’t waste my tax dollars like Palm Coast does. I also buy my gas in Jax or Daytona where it’s cheaper and help boost their economy and will continue to do so until there’s a changing of the guard in Palm Coast City Hall.

  7. Brad says:

    It’s about time. The tax laws for Amazon compared to brick-and-mortar retailers who also sell online has been very unfair.

  8. ScotchRox says:

    Placed an order today 4-17-14, and was charged FL sales tax already.

    They’re not waiting until May 1st…

    • The Truth says:

      This is not correct. Sales Tax is not being collected yet. You likely purchased it from a third party seller and it was fulfilled by Amazon. If the third party seller is located in Florida than that’s why you paid sales tax.

  9. tulip says:

    It won’t be long until ALL online retailers will have to collect sales tax.

    I just hope they are all honest enough to return all the sales tax money to the various states and counties.

  10. Gia says:

    We can buy with other online retailers. I don’t buy in PC for gas, restaurants etc anyway. It’s cheaper other county.

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