April 09, 2021
Contact: Steven Nekhaila,
Chairman, Libertarian Party of Florida
[email protected]
844-FLA-FREE (352-3733)

KEY WEST, Fla. – Although they called it a “tax reduction,” the Florida Legislature overwhelmingly approved legislation this week to begin new sales tax collections for out-of-state online sales to Floridians. As a result, we will pay 6 percent on items we buy over the internet if Gov. Ron DeSantis signs the bill.

According to a legislative analysis, the proposal would increase state revenue by $1.3 billion annually by requiring online vendors to collect Florida sales taxes. That is no reduction. It follows on the coattails of the estimated $3 billion state budget shortfall created by the forced economy shutdowns amid the COVID-19 scare.

The legislation was endorsed by Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida League of Cities, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and others, including Amazon. Floridians have paid sales taxes on Amazon purchases since 2014 when the state brokered sweetheart tax-break deals with the retail giant to plant distribution centers throughout the state. Florida is one of the last two states who charge sales taxes but did not charge them on out-of-state sales.

LPF Activist Chris Rose appeared before the Florida House Commerce Committee last week on behalf of the Libertarian Party of Florida opposing the legislation. Rose called the measure “the largest tax hike in our lifetime.” Committee members responded to Rose, calling it a “tax cut.” Their logic was online merchants do not have to collect taxes when they sell to Florida residents yet Florida “brick and mortar” retailers must collect sales tax at the time of sales.

A last-minute attempt by Sen. Gary Farmer (D – Broward) to reduce state taxes from 6 percent to 5.75 percent was defeated. “We tried to do a tax break for the working class, for the little guy & gal….but my Republican colleagues – who normally lust over tax cuts – voted no.  Things that make you go hmmmm….,” Farmer Tweeted after the vote.

The bill is now going to Gov. Ron DeSantis includes no such breaks for the state’s retail customers.

The LPF has always stood steadfast against any taxation whether wrapped in online sales or not. In its Platform, the LPF declares “The State of Florida has levied enough taxes on its citizens and trade partners, as such, no new taxes ought to be levied for new government projects. New projects must be funded from existing revenues by reducing inefficiencies or cutting current spending.”

Historically, public taxation was used by the government to pay for roads and bridges, and other public resources. In Florida, sales taxes became one of the main sources of income for all government operations. Online vendors use no Florida infrastructure or other state resources. The state does not provide residents’ internet or their devices to access those stores.

The fairness argument is also thin because both online and local retailers may charge the same price if they choose. Paying a sales tax is little challenge for buyers who want immediate possession of the good or service. Online purchases require time and often, shipping charges which can exceed the state’s 6 percent tax rate.

The Libertarian Party of Florida encourages DeSantis to oppose this new dive into Floridian’s pockets.

– By J. Mark Barfield, Staff Writer