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Politics

E-fairness Makes Florida More Competitive

February 20, 2013 - 6:00pm

This week, retailers from across Florida, led by our partners at the Florida Retail Federation and their president and CEO Rick McAllister, are meeting in Tallahassee to continue the fight to ensure a fair and equitable taxation system that discourages government from determining winners and losers through unfair tax policy.

Floridas brick-and-mortar retailers, which are a vital part of our communities, are at a competitive disadvantage with the current tax system tilted in the favor of online-only retailers. The Florida Chamber has long championed closing a massive loophole and helping save small-business jobs an effort we are proud to be a part of with our retail partners.

Closing this loophole will not create a new tax. Florida already requires individual consumers to remit sales taxes for online purchases. Either online or on Main Street, when a sale is made, a transaction has occurred and the sales tax is owed. The same rules should apply online that apply on Main Street. Its a matter of fairness and common sense after all, small businesses create four out of five new jobs in Florida and small-business owners invest in our schools and communities across the state.

Some Internet-only retailers have innovative business models and may have well-meaning managers, but the simple truth is they are feeding the myth that corporate leaders put profits ahead of doing whats right. By not collecting sales tax, online-only retailers are essentially shortchanging Floridas education system out of billions of dollars while unfairly hurting small businesses and the jobs they create. While Internet-only retailers have decided to shortchange Floridians up to now, they should do the right thing and begin collecting sales taxes on the purchases where the tax is already owed as in Floridas case.

Its time that Internet-only retailers comply with the same laws that brick-and-mortar retailers follow to ensure sales taxes are collected in a simple and fair fashion. Small businesses invested in our communities should not be punished by an unfair tax advantage for Internet-only retailers. E-fairness will make Florida more competitive and Floridas retailers should be commended for their continued fight for common-sense legislation that will ensure fairness.

Mark Wilson is president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. He can be contacted at mwilson@flchamber.com.

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