Paying more for online purchases in Florida?

New push for FL internet sales tax

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The savings Floridians often enjoy with online purchases could be in danger of disappearing. One group of state lawmakers is pushing a brand new plan for an internet sales tax.

The idea has been around for a decade. But, supporters say this time is different because it includes tax breaks to offset the money the state would bring in.

In 2012, more than $1 trillion was spent making purchases on the world wide web. For Floridians in 2013, those same online prices could be higher - 6 percent higher. That does not sound like a good financial forecast to shopper Jamai Buchanan of West Palm Beach. "That's the first thing that I think about; price point," he said.

In Tallahassee, on Tuesday, legislators pushed forward a plan that would require out-of-state internet-only retailers, such as Amazon, to tack on the state's sales tax - even though they do not have any stores in Florida.

Floridians finding deals online often sidestep a state sales tax depending on who - and where - they buy from.

Some lawmakers say that is money going out of state and, perhaps, out the window.

"E-commerce is a very big part of any business," said Mathew DeStefano of Striker Soccer Supply in West Palm Beach.

Online sales are only about 15 percent of his financial pie. He says big web retailers outside state lines offering the same products at the same price - without a sales tax - are tough competition. "Leveling the playing field is a good thing for any business," he said.

The Florida Retail Federation says, if approved, this plan could raise an extra $400 million for the state. The bill still has a long way to go before hitting the senate floor for debate and before potentially hitting consumers' wallets.
 

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