Watchdog group pushes ‘E-Fairness’, Seminole gaming compact amid state revenue loss

The push comes after Florida lost $878 million in revenue in April.

A government watchdog group is calling on the Florida Legislature to establish a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe and to collect tax on internet sales after a report showed Florida revenue collections down $878 million for April.

The move comes after Florida got a grim glimpse Tuesday at the pandemic’s impact on state revenue. According to a monthly revenue report by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, Florida suffered a staggering $878 million loss in April, and forecasts further decline in May.

“Florida TaxWatch has long supported E-Fairness legislation, and a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe as important and significant sources of revenue and now, with the COVID-19 pandemic costing hundreds of millions in lost revenues, these changes are no longer just desirable, they are essential,” Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic C. Calabro said in a statement.

According to Florida TaxWatch, the cost to Florida governments of not collecting a tax on internet sales from vendors such as Amazon is more than $700 million in lost revenue. Moreover, the watchdog group argues the lack of ‘E-Fairness’ costs retailers millions in brick-and-mortar taxes, placing them at a disadvantage.

“Every state except Florida and Missouri have taken steps to resolve the issue,” Florida Taxwatch added on their website.

The nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute also urged the legislature to take up a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe, a move the group said would generate more revenue for the state.

According to Florida TaxWatch, tribal sovereignty bars states from taxing Indian tribes, making gaming compacts essential for tribes and states to share gambling revenue on tribal lands.

“We cannot afford continued inaction on these critical issues. Today, we again urge the Florida Legislature to take decisive action and activate these needed revenue sources, which will increase collections dramatically and help ensure a strong recovery for the Sunshine State,” Calabro said.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.

One comment

  • Albert

    May 30, 2020 at 8:00 pm

    Forget the seminoles and their wannabe monopoly on gaming and entertainment. Let florida open up so we can get good jobs to floridians and expand the idea of gaming and entertainment outside of tribal land and get tax revenue on our own terms.

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