Florida senator proposes online sales tax bill

Florida Sen. Joe Gruters filed a bill on Wednesday that requires online companies to charge sales tax on transactions.

For many people, it is simple. Online shopping can not be beaten.

“If you have a local business here selling a product and you buy it on Amazon and no sales tax,” Robert Sterling said, “well obviously you’re gonna buy it on Amazon – they’re gonna deliver it right to your door.”

“I’d say at least once a week I buy something,” Teri Sassin said. “I buy clothes. I buy gifts. Pretty much anything you can buy.”

One Charlotte County politician said that is the problem. Gruters filed a bill that would make online stores charge sales tax on transaction just as storefront businesses are required to do.

Some people, like Sassin, became frantic.

“Please don’t do it!” Sassin said. “Don’t tax it!”

But others, like Sterling, said it is only fair to make that bill into law.

“I know Amazon has gotten away with it for years and years without paying any sales tax,” Sterling said. “A lot of local businesses have been hurt with the online buying.”

For some, it is about where the money the state makes off the sales tax will go towards.

“You wanna make sure it’s being invested into something of value,” Jim Hartnett said. “The likelihood of this money going into education issues or environmental issues won’t happen.”

Gruters said the proceeds could be distributed to increasing teacher salaries or environmental issues, but he would leave that detail up to leadership.

This is not the first time Gruters has filed this bill and he hopes to succeed this time around. The Republican senator projects the bill would bring in $750 million in revenue.

Peter Bergerson, a political science professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, said it is unlikely the money will be allocated to education or environmental issues.

“It would really raise another political issue and a real scramble,” Bergerson said. “That’s a significant amount of money on where it would be spent.”

Reporter:Sydney Persing
Writer:Michael Mora
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