Just before midnight Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB 50 instituting sales tax requirements for online retailers, into law.
The bill requires out-of-state online retailers to collect and report sales taxes on purchases made by Floridians. The tax will bring in an estimated $1 billion in revenue, as well as limit taxes paid by Floridians and Florida businesses.
The proposal was backed largely by Republicans in the legislature and business groups saying the issue of online sales taxes was an issue of fairness and leveling the playing field.
State revenue from the tax will be used to restore an unemployment trust fund and will be used as a steppingstone to reduce a commercial rent tax.
“The tax cut on business rent is an added bonus,” said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “With this cost-savings, Florida businesses across all sectors of the economy can reinvest in their community, create jobs and grow their businesses.”
The Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida League of Cities, and Florida TaxWatch all voiced their support for the bill.
One of the FL Chamber’s top priorities, SB 50, has been signed into law! TY @GovRonDeSantis for your leadership in providing relief to Florida businesses and for keeping Florida competitive.
— Florida Chamber (@FlChamber) April 20, 2021
TaxWatch commends @GovRonDeSantis on the signing of the historic E-Fairness bill! FTW has backed up the need for this legislation for 20 years. It is one of the most significant pieces of tax legislation in Florida’s history. The final bill contains 4 FTW recommendations. pic.twitter.com/kG8RDYNCHO
— Florida TaxWatch (@FloridaTaxWatch) April 20, 2021
Democratic critics of the legislation said they supported the concept of e-fairness but would rather have seen the revenue generated be used for unemployment benefits and referred to the legislation as a “regressive tax.”
“Governor just signed a bill into law to increase your taxes and give the new revenue of $1 billion to businesses,” said Rep. Anna Eskamani, (D-47).
Here’s a part of my debate against the new tax bill @GovRonDeSantis signed into law late last night.
SB50 collects online sales tax, generating $1B in new revenue but sends the money to businesses instead of YOU.
Sales tax is a regressive tax, too.
— Rep. Anna V. Eskamani 🔨 (@AnnaForFlorida) April 20, 2021
Physical retailers applauded the measure as they are currently required to collect and remit sales taxes. Online-only retailers have not been under the same requirement.
“We’ve created an unfair competitive advantage for foreign players and out-of-state retailers on the backs of our local retailers,” said Sen. Joe Gruters (R-23).
Rep. Chuck Clemons (R-21) and Rep. Chip LaMarca (R-93), proponents of the bill, said it will level the playing field between online-only and brick-and-mortar retailers.
Florida now joins 45 other states requiring online-retailers to report sales taxes.
– – –
Grant Holcomb is a reporter at the Florida Capital Star and the Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.