Florida Watch pops Gov. DeSantis for ‘middle of the night’ $1B tax hike

Wayfair ad
The ad calls e-fairness a regressive tax hike that only benefits corporations.

A new ad blasts Gov. Ron DeSantis for signing a billion-dollar tax hike “when no one was looking.”

The video spot from Florida Watch slams the online tax collection bill signing as a regressive tax. The Governor signed the legislation (SB 50) on April 19, the last possible day to do so before it became law without his signature, at about 20 minutes until midnight.

Splicing pictures of DeSantis, commentary from The Young Turks host Ana Kasparian and ominous voiceovers from a male narrator, the ad casts the change in Florida tax code as a corporate giveaway on the backs of consumers.

“In the middle of the night, Gov. DeSantis signed a law that will cost Floridians an estimated $1 billion a year,” the narrator states. “The extra $1 billion you’ll be paying will only be used to cut taxes for already wealthy corporations.”

The ad prominently features Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat.

“It raises taxes on everyday people and doesn’t actually direct that money toward everyday people,” she said.

State revenue estimators predict collecting sales tax online at the point of sale will generate a $973.6-million boost in general revenue funds in the 2021-2022 fiscal year and a $1.08 billion boost each year afterward.

The legislation signed into law will direct the money raised into the unemployment trust until it reaches pre-pandemic levels. That will avoid an automatic increase in the per-employee unemployment taxes owed by employers. The trust was depleted early in the coronavirus pandemic by a flood of new claims.

Once the trust goes back up again, the state will use the revenue to cut the commercial rent tax in Florida from 5.5% to 2%.

Of note, most Democrats in the Legislature favored the collection of the tax, billed as e-fairness for requiring collection of the tax by e-commerce retailers that brick-and-mortar stores collect at the cash register. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 determined states could require sales tax collection in the South Dakota v. Wayfair decision, and Florida was the second to last state to charge it.

But the Republican Legislature designated how revenue would be spent, ensuring the revenue would only be used to ease corporate and business taxes while Florida’s unemployment payments remain among the lowest in the nation.

“He (DeSantis) is implementing a regressive tax, meaning that it’s a tax that everyone has to pay into regardless of what their income is,” Kasparian says in the ad, “which means that if you’re poor it’s going to negatively impact you and your ability to buy things you need for yourself and your family. And he did that in order to prevent businesses from having to pay more in taxes.

“He gave businesses a tax cut while increasing taxes on consumers in the state.”

Notably, DeSantis showed reluctance throughout the Legislative Session about the tax and did not include the revenue in his own proposed budget. Many expected DeSantis would allow the legislation to become law without his signature, and the same day he signed the bill he had a high-profile ceremony around the signing of an anti-rioting bill.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Tom Palmer

    May 11, 2021 at 12:49 pm

    This was no secret. Legislators had been discussing this for years to level the playing field for brick-and-mortar merchant and to collect the sales taxes Florida was owed in the first place.. The outrage is a bit misplaced.

    • Fk

      May 11, 2021 at 7:20 pm

      Palmer u r correct. This liberal media idiot makes the narrative we will a tax increase. Totally untrue, for years online sales went untaxed. All other businesses must charge sales tax, no different for an online business. Again, Fake News.

  • Charlie

    May 11, 2021 at 1:51 pm

    I totally support the measure, and you lie, it replenishes unemployment benefit bank and stimulates small businesses who hire a very large percentage of Floridians. I know if the Democrats got in it wouldn’t be long before we got a State income tax. Why don’t you drop the politics and admit it’s just good management. Besides , when the heck have democrats been against a tax?

  • Silverback

    May 12, 2021 at 2:15 pm

    The source is an Orlando democrat. Heck, they always tell the truth. Don’t they?

  • Ian

    May 12, 2021 at 3:17 pm

    The new law does NOT increase taxes. Buyers were already supposed to pay tax on these online purchases, just like purchases made in person, but virtually no buyers were doing so. The new law requires sellers to collect the taxes during the purchase. That’s not a tax increase; it’s a tax collection requirement.

    Here’s my question: why aren’t Florida Politics and other news outlets calling out people like Kasparian who blatantly lie? They never were shy about doing that when they thought Trump was lying. The headline should read “Florida Watch falsely accuses Gov. DeSantis for what it incorrectly calls a ‘middle of the night’ $1B tax hike.” Why is that not happening?

  • 901 Tiger

    May 15, 2021 at 8:05 am

    News for lefties – Corporations DON’T PAY TAXES! Their customers pay taxes in the form of higher prices!
    And you don’t have to pay this tax. Just go shop locally instead of on AMAZON, thus enriching the RICHEST man in the world!

  • Ed

    May 25, 2021 at 9:14 am

    Another crying lefty making fake news!! What’s New. Lol

  • Julio

    May 25, 2021 at 9:20 am

    What an idiot these “journalist” is, my god. Does he even understand taxes?

Comments are closed.


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