”Agenda for Jobs” includes recommendation to tax Internet sales
Oct 20, 2011 - WTSP-TV Channel 10 Tampa
Tallahassee, Florida – The Florida Chamber of Commerce has issued a six-point plan to help create jobs and one of the elements includes requiring you to pay taxes on all of your Internet purchases.
The Chamber is calling on state lawmakers to close a tax loophole that allows online retailers to sell products without collecting sales taxes. Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson argues when the state does not collect sales taxes on Internet purchases, it puts Florida businesses at a competitive disadvantage.
Currently he says some online retailers like Amazon place advertisements on their websites saying people don’t have to pay sales taxes for online purchases.
That’s not exactly true. Consumers are supposed to pay a tax but the state does not enforce its collection.
Wilson says there’s a lot of money at stake in this issue.
“It’s estimated that this is between a one and two billion dollar tax issue for Florida. So here’s an example where this is a current tax that’s on the books that’s not currently being collected and we would like to see the state put a process in place where they can simply collect the taxes from online purchases just as they do from offline purchases.”
The Chamber’s “Agenda for Jobs” focuses on six areas for improvement: education, economic development, infrastructure, business climate, government and quality of life issues.
Wilson says Florida must think more globally because it currently has the 20th largest economy in the world and will soon pass New York as the third largest state. He says the state’s future growth depends on the strength of the private sector to create jobs.
“Nothing good happens without job growth and job growth only happens when the private sector has the confidence to invest in the future. Despite what Washington is doing, Florida has an opportunity to lead and that’s what this agenda for jobs is all about.”
The Chamber is also pushing for state universities to produce more science, technology, engineering and math graduates. Wilson says Florida has about 34,000 job openings right now for graduates with those degrees.
“The country of India today graduates more English-speaking engineers in one year than the United States graduates college students. Florida should lead the way forward.”
The Jobs Agenda predicts Florida can transform its economy by boosting its trade, manufacturing and aerospace industries. It’s estimated a doubling of Florida exports over the next five years would create 143,000 jobs.
And Wilson says there’s much room for improvement in Florida’s business climate. He says it’s being hurt by a bad legal climate.
“Florida’s legal climate is ranked as one of the ten worst legal climates in the United States. We’re the 42nd worst legal climate in the country and Miami is rated as the third worst metropolitan area in the nation when it comes to legal reform. We simply have to fix this.”
Sen. John Thrasher of Jacksonville likes what he sees in the plan.
“This agenda that is being discussed today and will be discussed in the Legislature I think is comprehensive, it’s job-centered and I think it will get people back to work in the state of Florida.”
More than 980,000 Floridians are currently out of work. The state’s unemployment rate stands at 10.7 percent, more than a point above the national average.
John Medina of the Florida Chamber’s Small Business Council says 4 out of 5 jobs will be created by small businesses in the future. He says those businesses are clamoring for three things.
“We must continue to make significant strides to lower the cost of doing business, create regulatory certainty and focus on improving the skills of our workforce.”
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