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Collecting Whats Owed

March 16th, 2009 by flanews

The state is missing out on an estimated two to four billion dollars in sales tax revenue. The reason: some internet shoppers arent paying the tax. As Whitney Ray tells us, lawmakers are considering streamlining the states tax code to make it easier for businesses to know how much money to collect from shoppers.

With every click of the buy now button, Florida stands to lose money. Many online stores dont require shoppers to pay sales tax and many shoppers dont seem to mind. Internet shoppers are supposed to fill out this form and pay state taxes on things they bought online; the only problem, few know theyre supposed to.

Lawmakers are reviewing a plan to streamline Floridas tax code with 22 other states. The plan would give online merchants a better idea of what is taxable. Larry Fuchs, the former Director of the Department of Revenue, said the plan would level the playing field for instate stores.

The money that is spent in a local store, that goes to its employees, to rent, to utilities, to local property taxes. It pays enormous residual benefits for the people of the state of Florida, said Fuchs.

The plan would bring in an estimated 16 million dollars a year, but it could cost the state 40 million to implement. While streamlining our tax code would cost upfront, it could pay off in the long run.

It really encourages Congress to act on this. When Congress acts, then we are talking about billions of dollars in additional sales tax revenue, said Rob Weissert, a spokesman with Florida TaxWatch.

Even If the state adopts the plan, paying the tax would still be left up to the online merchants and shoppers, until Congress steps in.

Forty-five states collect a sales tax. If Florida joined the 22 other states in the streamlining agreement, then more than half of states that collect sales tax would be on board. Tax experts say having a majority could go a long way in swaying Congress to act.

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