March 7, 2003
TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Department of Revenue urges businesses and tax-preparation agents to enroll now to begin e-filing unemployment tax, to ensure that they can comply with a change in state law that will affect them in April.
The easy way to enroll is to go to the Department's Internet site at www.myflorida.com/dor/ and look for information on enrolling to file and pay tax electronically. Online enrollment is simple, fast, and offers 24-hour-a-day convenience.
About 88,000 Florida employers and their tax-preparation agents will be required to file unemployment tax reports and pay unemployment tax electronically starting in April 2003. They must enroll before they can comply with a state law requiring them to file unemployment tax reports and pay tax electronically if they:
Employers and tax preparers can easily fulfill the requirement to electronically file and pay unemployment tax by using the Department's free and secure Internet site. Other options for filing by electronic means are listed on the site. Because these e-filing systems are protected by sophisticated encryption, tax filers must enroll to receive a password to file and pay tax. Personal identification codes and passwords for taxpayers who already have enrolled will be mailed in late March.
The Department of Revenue urges Florida certified public accountants, tax attorneys, and other business representatives to remind their clients about the new electronic filing requirements.
Businesses that collect certain other taxes administered by DOR also have new electronic filing and payment requirements that have already gone into effect. They are:
Businesses filing sales and fuel tax returns have had since October to enroll to meet the requirements of the law. But many waited until January to enroll, causing heavy demand for DOR assistance. Employers and their agents have been able to enroll to file unemployment tax since December, but most have not yet enrolled.
No business will be required to purchase a computer or obtain Internet access to comply with the law. Businesses may comply with the electronic filing requirement by using the Department's "TeleFile" telephone system. Waivers from the e-filing requirement, good for up to two years, are available in certain limited circumstances.
However, the law does not allow waivers from e-payment of taxes for businesses that file more than $30,000 per year in the affected taxes. These businesses must pay tax through electronic funds transfer, by credit card (except for unemployment tax) or by ACH transfer.
In addition to businesses that meet the electronic filing criteria, new requirements also apply to so-called "zero" tax returns in sales or fuel tax. These are returns in which taxpayers owe no tax but are still required to file a return. The law also requires Florida taxpayers to file intangible tax electronically if the individual taxpayer, couple or business owes $30,000 or more in tax. Of course, the Department encourages all taxpayers to use the e-filing options.
For information about complying with requirements to file and pay unemployment tax electronically, please call 1-800-482-8293. For general information about sales, fuel and other tax filing and payment requirements, please call 1-800-352-3671 from within Florida.
The new Florida law mirrors a national trend toward increasing electronic filing requirements. Recently, the state of Minnesota required all business and individual taxpayers to file all tax returns electronically. The federal government has encouraged e-filing of income tax returns since the early 1990s. DOR will be adding additional filing options for other taxes. For more information, watch the DOR Internet site at www.myflorida.com/dor/