Florida business community asks Congress to close tax loophole

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Florida shopping mallFlorida retail businesses have for years felt at a disadvantage when competing with online retailers that aren’t required to charge sales tax.

To bring some parity to the situation, Florida TaxWatch, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Florida, and the Florida Retail Federation have joined forces, issuing an open letter asking the Florida Congressional Delegation to support closing the online sales tax loophole.

As online retail sales have grown to capture a larger share of shopping activity, the four organizations urged immediate action and explained how the bill would protect Florida’s small businesses and stimulate the economy:

The Marketplace Fairness Act, recently passed by the U.S. Senate, would create a level playing field for all retailers by closing this sales tax loophole and requiring online retailers to collect sales taxes, just as traditional retailers have always been required to do. This would give brick-and-mortar retailers equal footing for competing in the retail market. In addition, online retailers would be provided with free sales tax collection software to make compliance easy, and small retailers below a certain threshold of annual sales would be exempted altogether.

By ending special treatment for online sellers, the letter suggested, a fairer tax system would be created, with fewer loopholes and an opportunity for lower tax rates for everyone.

The group explained that the legislation would not create a new Internet tax. Sales taxes for online purchases are already due, but individual shoppers – not the online retailers – are now responsible for reporting and paying the tax. While hardly anyone complies, the Marketplace Fairness Act would require the retailers to collect the taxes at the point of sale.

The letter also cited a new economic study that estimated such legislation would stimulate Florida’s economy by creating more than 100,000 new jobs and increasing Florida’s Gross State Product by more than 3 percent.

The four organizations represent a cross section of Florida’s business leaders who consistently advocate for lower and fairer taxes and other policies to strengthen Florida’s economy.

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