We're sure that after yesterday, the last thing you want to hear about is more taxes. But you'd better get ready to pay a lot more of them if you're a frequent online shopper. Amazon will begin charging Floridians a sales tax May 1, just like any brick-and-mortar store.
Florida's sales tax law has a bit of a loophole. If a company doesn't have a physical presence in the state, it doesn't have to charge sales tax for online purchases.
Amazon has dozens of warehouses and fulfillment centers scattered across the United States but has been operating without one in one of the nation's largest -- and, to a degree, most geographically isolated -- states. That, of course, has meant shipping to Florida can take a bit longer on average, but it does end up saving you from paying that 6 percent sales tax.
Well, Amazon is finally opening a new warehouse and shipping center in Ruskin, Florida, in the Tampa Bay area. It's expected to be completed and open by the end of the year, just in time for Christmas shopping. Another warehouse is also planned for Lakeland in Polk County. That means Amazon is no longer covered under the loophole.
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In order to come into compliance, Amazon will begin collecting Florida sales tax May 1. This is bad news for penny-pinchers but isn't such a rough deal for the state overall.
The Florida Retail Federation has estimated Amazon will produce $80 to $90 million in new taxes for the state. Of course, the construction of warehouses in Florida will bring more jobs to the state and shorten delivery times as well.
That's also good news for local retailers who've complained that the sales tax loophole presents an unfair advantage for online retailers. The Florida Retail Federation and the Florida Chamber of Commerce have long pushed for the loophole to be eliminated and require online retailers to collect sales tax.