Deal Struck on E-Fairness and Looming Unemployment Tax Increase Facing Employers 

After an announcement Wednesday from President Wilton Simpson and Speaker Chris Sprowls, the Florida House Ways and Means Committee passed with bipartisan support an amendment to HB 15 to backfill the state unemployment compensation trust fund with the estimated $1.3 billion in annual sales tax revenue from online sales that has largely gone uncollected. The amendment effectively combined two of the Florida Chamber’s top priorities this legislative session by leveling the playing field for main street businesses and avoiding a $713 million tax increase on Florida’s job creators. The responsibility has long been on the consumer to remit their own tax on online purchases, and Rep. Clemons’ bill simply shifts the collection point to internet retailers. Florida and Missouri are the only two states that collect a sales tax that have not passed such legislation.

The Florida Chamber has been concerned for over a year on how the pandemic-fueled recession would impact unemployment taxes as many employers were forced to layoff employees. More recently, the Florida Chamber led the business community in a sign on letter to the Governor, President and Speaker asking for relief from an automatic $713 million tax increase that was to come due in April and May as the legislative session was wrapping up. This action to backfill the trust fund over the next several years ensures that job creators will be held harmless from massive unemployment tax increases resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic as they seek to accelerate Florida’s economic recovery.