Fact Check: TV Ad Falsely Accuses DeSantis of Levying a New Tax 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A TV ad paid for by the progressive political action committee “DeSantis Watch” claims that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis increased taxes on Floridians in 2021 by signing into law a “$1 billion tax on consumers.” This claim is misleading. The bill in question did not levy a new tax, but instead changed the way in which an existing tax was to be collected. 

A contemporary analysis of the bill (SB50) published by the legislative staff of Florida’s Committee on Commerce and Tourism noted that the compliance rate of sales taxes paid on goods purchased from out-of-state retailers in Florida had been extremely low before the passage of SB50. Before the law took effect, customers purchasing from out-of-state retailers were supposed to contact the state’s Department of Revenue, report their purchase, and pay the 6 percent sales tax owed. SB50 required out-of-state retailers to collect the sales tax themselves at the point of purchase and remit it to the state’s Department of Revenue, with a goal to drastically increase the compliance rate. 

The TV ad in question features a partial quotation from the headline of an article published by the Orlando Sentinel after SB50 was signed into law: “Just before midnight, DeSantis … signed $1 billion tax on consumers.” Despite a misleading headline, however, the article states only that “the bill will cost Florida consumers who shop online an estimated $1 billion a year in sales taxes.” It does not claim that the bill constitutes a new tax in and of itself. 

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