March 22, 2021

Corporate Tax Break Amendment Ruins Online Sales Tax Bill

This post was last updated on December 8, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

Florida Policy Institute does not support the current version of SB 50/HB 15.

In its original form, the legislation rightly included language stipulating that revenue generated from modernizing enforcement of online sales tax collections would go directly into the general revenue fund. These dollars could have then been invested in things that benefit communities — affordable health care services, increasing teacher pay, parks and beaches, and job training programs, to name just a few.

This language was a key provision of the legislation because sales tax, by nature, is regressive, placing the biggest burden on those with the least ability to pay. These same Floridians have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and economic crisis.

However, the amendment made to the bill in early March turns it into yet another tax break for businesses. Dollars that should be earmarked for public services, which benefit Floridians with low and moderate income — those who would, by and large, use the greatest share of their money to pay for the online sales tax — would instead go to replenish the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund.

It’s also worth noting that there is nothing in the language about actually fixing Florida’s broken unemployment insurance system, ranked as one of the nation’s worst.

We urge lawmakers to prioritize the needs of Floridians, not corporations. This legislation should not move forward as amended. Any revenue raised through the enforcement of the online sales tax should be put into the general revenue fund to support investments that will mitigate the unprecedented hardships that Floridians continue to face, and foster a broadly shared economic recovery.

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