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Gov. DeSantis signs online tax bill

By NATHAN MAYBERG - | Apr 28, 2021

Gov. Ron DeSantis

nmayberg@breezenewspapers.com

A new state law which will require online companies based outside of Florida to collect sales tax on purchases made by Floridians, was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis after being approved by the state legislature.

The law was supported by DeSantis a way to replenish the state’s unemployment reserve funds. State Sen. Ray Rodrigues (R-Estero), whose district includes most of Lee County, supported the bill. State representatives Mike Giallombardo, R-Cape Coral,) Adam Botana (R-Bonita Springs) and Spencer Roach (R-North Fort Myers), whose districts include much of Lee County, also voted in favor.

The State Senate approved the measure 27-12 and the House passed the bill 93-24.

DeSantis has publicly expressed disinterest in raising the maximum unemployment for Floridians, which is currently capped at $275 — below the minimum wage for a 40-hour work week. A bill in the state legislature would raise the maximum unemployment check to $375.

The office of Gov. DeSantis did not reply to questions seeking further clarification as to whether any portion of the new sales tax revenue would be distributed to counties or other entities. The office did not respond to a request for comment.

Lee County spokesperson Betsy Clayton stated that it was currently “uncertain” as to whether the county or local municipalities would see any of the sales tax funds.

State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is expected to challenge DeSantis in 2022, said the new law amounts to raising taxes on Floridians by more than $1 billion a year. Fried criticized DeSantis for signing the bill “right before midnight, with no cameras watching” on the same day that he held a public press conference highlighting his signature to the controversial “Combating Public Disorder Act.”

In a statement, Fried said “Yet earlier that day, he was able to hold a huge press conference, taking away your First Amendment rights — but last night, when he took a billion dollars from you, no one was watching.

“I’m pissed,” Fried stated.

The bill states that the legislature’s intent is to “relieve individual Florida businesses of increases in the Reemployment Assistance Tax which are due to increased reemployment assistance benefits resulting from the pandemic.”