Scott and Amazon reach deal, bringing jobs, investment and taxes to Floridiansby John Kennedy | June 13th, 2013
Gov. Rick Scott and online retail giant Amazon announced a deal Thursday in which the company will open a Florida distribution warehouse bringing 3,000 jobs and $300 million in investment to the state.
Florida taxpayers would have to start paying 6 percent state sales tax on their internet purchases through Amazon, once the warehouse is housed in the state.
Scott said the deal, in discussion for more than a year — but which looked dead a month ago — was a sign that “we’ve turned our economy around.”
“Amazon will continue to work with Enterprise Florida on its ongoing projects which will include a return on any taxpayer investment, and we look forward to the company’s announcements as it chooses locations and creates jobs in Florida,” Scott said.
In the framework of the agreement unveiled Thursday, Scott and Amazon vice-president Paul Misener said the company will have the distribution facility open by the end of 2016. Under state law, once an online retailer has a physical presence in Florida, it must start collecting and remitting sales taxes.
Any potential political blowback on Scott — for hoisting an internet sales tax on Floridians — would apparently be pushed off until following next year’s governor’s race. Scott, who is seeking reelection, committed in 2010 to create 700,000 jobs over seven years and recently claimed to be almost half-way to that goal.
Enterprise Florida, the state’s business marketing arm, told the Palm Beach Post on Thursday that incentive money is likely to flow to Amazon as part of the deal. But those terms are still to be worked out, officials said.
Congress has been debating whether to allow states to collect sales taxes on Internet purchases their residents make with out-of-state companies. Currently, Floridians are supposed to pay taxes for online purchases, but practically the standard is not enforced unless a retailer has a physical presence in the state.
Seattle-based Amazon has made similar deals to open distribution centers in several other states, allowing governments to begin collecting sales taxes. Organizations representing traditional, brick-and-mortar retailers have been pressuring states to reach such agreements to blunt the rising influence of big, online sellers.
House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, hailed the Amazon deal as a “tremendous boost to our economy.”
Weatherford, who has sparred with Scott over health care, university tuition, and economic incentives, credited the governor with “tremendous leadership on this issue.”
“He has helped prove that Florida is open for business and our job creation climate continues to improve,” Weatherford said.