The federal bill that would require online retailers nationwide to collect sales tax on purchases is languishing in the House, but the so-called Amazon tax continues to make its way into individual state tax codes.
Florida is the latest state that will start collecting sales tax from Amazon on its sales to Sunshine State residents.
The Seattle-based online giant already collects sales tax on shipments to buyers in its home state of Washington, as well as in Arizona, California, Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Texas.
Amazon will start collecting sales taxes from shoppers in New Jersey on July 1, Virginia on Sept. 1, and Connecticut and Massachusetts on Nov. 1.
Online tax collection is coming in 2014 for Amazon shoppers in Indiana, Nevada and Tennessee. South Carolina's tax department will see sales tax revenue from Amazon sales in 2016.
Florida collection date unclear
So when will Amazon patrons in Florida begin paying the state's 6 percent sales tax on their online purchases? At such time as it is required under current Florida law.
That vague tax implementation date is the official word from Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who mentioned the sales tax collection in his announcement that Amazon will spend $300 million to build facilities in Florida by the end of 2016.
Amazon also was coy regarding specifics, but the company reportedly will build two 1 million-square-foot "fulfillment centers" somewhere along Florida's I-4 corridor within the first year of the deal. When all the work is done, Scott says 3,000 new jobs will be filled by Florida residents.
The deal is similar to those Amazon reached with other states. By building brick-and-mortar facilities, there is no question as to whether the online seller will have the nexus, or physical presence, needed to require tax collection, as stipulated by a 1992 ruling by the Supreme Court.
Federal sales tax bill stalled
Amazon's continued push across the country to build facilities comes as the federal Marketplace Fairness Act has stalled in the U.S. House.
The measure passed the Senate in May and President Barack Obama has endorsed the sales tax collection. The House's version of the bill has more than 60 cosponsors, including 22 Republicans, but House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., is openly opposed to the legislation.
Representatives from the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures held a press conference this week at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to urge passage of the legislation.
But the sponsor of the House sales tax bill is not optimistic his colleagues will get to the bill this session.
Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., told reporters at the National Press Club event that his bill is vying for a spot on a legislative schedule that also includes a farm bill, immigration reform, the debt ceiling and budget talks.
"There are a lot of things competing for floor time right now," Womack said. "I'm just not optimistic that it will be done because I know it's competing against a lot of things. And the last thing leadership probably wants to do is bring something to the floor where there's not a real strong appetite for it, and I know among House members there's not an appetite yet."
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Veteran contributing editor Kay Bell is the author of the book "The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes" and a co-author of the e-book "Future Millionaires' Guidebook."