DeSantis Quietly Signs Law Approving $1B Online Sales Tax

DeSantis Quietly Signs Law Approving $1B Online Sales Tax ron desantis attends press conference Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (Paul Hennessy/Sipa via AP Images)

By Theodore Bunker | Tuesday, 20 April 2021 11:56 AM

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis this week quietly signed a bill adding sales taxes to online purchases made by Floridians that could cost residents an estimated $1 billion per year, the Sun Sentinel reports.

"Governor just signed a bill into law to increase your taxes and give the new revenue of $1 billion to businesses," tweeted Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, on Monday night just after the signing was announced close to midnight.

The legislation, which was widely supported by business groups but opposed by Democrats, is one of five bills that DeSantis signed on Monday, which was the deadline for him to either sign it, veto it, or allow the bill to become law without his signature.

"The use of $1 billion on regressive taxes collected in the middle of a pandemic is not a good idea," said state Rep. Evan Jenne, the House Democrat Co-Leader, according to Florida Politics.

The chief executive of the Florida Retail Federation, Scott Shalley, said in a statement to the News Service of Florida that the law establishes a "level playing field" for businesses, and noted that the funds gained from the tax will help restore the state’s unemployment trust fund that was severely depleted during the COVID-19 pandemic and towards lowering the commercial rent tax.

"Through the passage of SB 50, Gov. DeSantis and legislative leaders have acknowledged the pivotal role that the retail industry plays in supporting Florida’s families," Shalley said, according to Florida Politics. With this measure signed into law, all businesses can compete on a level playing field and continue to support the 2.7 million Floridians who work in the retail industry. Thank you, Gov. DeSantis, for your leadership and for providing meaningful relief to Florida retail businesses."

Greg Blosé, president and chief executive of the Palm Coast-Flagler Regional Chamber added to the Palm Coast Observer: "This bill will level the playing field for our brick-and-mortar businesses, who regularly tell us consumers visit their shop, only to look up the item online to avoid paying the state sales tax. SB 50 also reduces the Florida-only Business Rent Tax by more than 60%, which will help businesses save hundreds of millions of dollars statewide and help organizations emerge from the pandemic recession even stronger."

Blosé continued, "Finally, SB 50 will replenish the state unemployment compensation trust fund until the trust fund reaches a balance of pre-pandemic levels. Job creators were expecting a hefty increase in their annual unemployment compensation bill, according to notices sent to all businesses in late December. However, the unemployment compensation trust fund rate increase will be recalculated after this bill is signed by the Governor."