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Cyber Monday Blues

November 30th, 2009 by flanews

By the end of the day an estimated six million Floridians will have bought something online. Shoppers are logging on to take advantage of Cyber Monday discounts on the busiest online shopping day of the year. As Whitney Ray tells us, the online shopping frenzy will benefit mostly out-of-state retailers and do little to help the state fund its budget.

Fifty, 60, even 70 percent off retail prices, coupled with free shipping and shopping at your leisure have one in three Floridians clicking the Buy Now button this Cyber Monday.

Despite the states economic troubles, shoppers are expected to spend hundreds of millions of dollars. Good news for the states dwindling bank account, right? Not exactly.

Online shoppers dont pay state sales tax on all their purchases. Only retailers with locations in Florida collect the tax. The rest are costing the state more than two billion dollars a year. The obligation to pay the tax is on the buyer.

Ononde Thelemaque and Sheila Josil shop online frequently. Neither knew their purchases werent being taxed. They were just focused on the savings.

Overstock.com has like really cheap things on certain stuff you can get inside the store for really expensive, thats like really really cheap, said Sheila.

Online stores are not just costing the state billions in sales tax revenue, according to Florida TaxWatch, they also undercutting their brick and mortar competition.

They are not reinvesting in our community. They are not supporting local charities, who are providing local jobs, who are owning local property and pay in taxes. They are the ones who are avoiding all that and we are giving them a six percent discount, said Robert Weissert, General Council for Florida TaxWatch.
State lawmakers want to fix the problem by synchronizing elements of the Floridas tax code with 22 other states to make paying internet sales taxes easier. In order to pay the online sales tax Florida shoppers have to get a form from the Department of Revenue, fill it out, and sent it back. Last year only 3-thousand internet tax forms were filed in Florida.

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