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Collecting What’s Owed

December 17th, 2008 by Mike Vasilinda

Florida is losing two to four billion dollars a year in taxes it is already owed because state lawmakers have failed to pave the way for the collection of taxes on remote or internet purchases. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, most everything you buy online is subject to the state sales and use tax, but only about half of whats due is ever collected.

Hear it Here: Collecting What’s Owed

The internet is the fastest growing sales sector in the state and nation. There is something for everyone.

I buy clothes, shoes, Tashalee Billings, a student, said. I just bought my grandmothers gift.

So Ill buy sheets online and that sort of thing, online shopper Amanda Wallace said.

Did you know that if you bought from somebody that didnt charge you tax, you still owe it?

No, I did not know that. I still owe tax? Retiree Allen Ricketts said.

And thats the problem. Few people know they are supposed to submit a form to the state and pay the tax they owe on internet purchases.

The tax on this 60-dollar watch should be $3.60. Florida Taxwatch says not collecting that at the sales point is costing the state a bundle.

Were losing two to four billion dollars a year, Dominic Calabro with Florida TaxWatch said. And what this means is, not only is it the rule of law but were actually hurting Florida jobs. Were hurting millions.

Tax experts say if Florida were already collecting everything its owed from internet purchases, there would be no budget deficit and no budget cutting.

Part of the problem is states tax items differently. Florida lawmakers have turned downed efforts to streamline our tax with other states. The Florida Retail Federation is working hard to get that done this year.

Thats money thats owed to the state of florida thats simply not being collected, not being payed. And we need that money, Rick McAllister with the Florida Retail Federation said.

Last year, just 3,400 forms were filed to voluntarily pay the tax. Remember…some people file more than one form, especially Department of Revenue employees.

Here’s the chart of how many have paid the tax since 1994:

Congress will still have to authorize a state to collect taxes from sellers in other states, but given the budget problems nationwide, opposition is starting to thaw.

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