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July 15, 2002

New Law Requires Businesses to e-File Sales, Unemployment Taxes; DOR Makes it Easy

TALLAHASSEE - Tax and computer experts at the Florida Department of Revenue are gearing up to help Florida businesses comply with a new state law requiring them to file tax returns and pay tax electronically as of January 2003.

A new state law requires businesses that collect more than $30,000 in the last year in sales, fuel or communications services tax from their customers to file their tax returns and pay tax electronically. Also, the law requires Florida taxpayers to file intangible tax electronically if the individual taxpayer, couple or business owes $30,000 or more in tax. The new Florida law mirrors a national trend. Recently, the state of Minnesota required all business and individual taxpayers to e-file all tax returns electronically.

In addition, the law requires electronic filing of unemployment compensation tax quarterly reports and e-payment of tax for businesses that had 10 or more employees in any calendar quarter in the 12 months ending June 30.

Businesses should enroll for the new filing methods starting in September 2002. Businesses will be required to file and pay tax using the new methods starting January 1, 2003. Businesses required to e-file unemployment compensation tax will be required to file reports and pay tax electronically for the quarter ending March 31, 2003.

While the new law will require a change in how businesses file tax returns, the change should be easy, DOR officials said. DOR officials have worked to make e-filing safe, convenient and low in cost. Because the Department of Revenue has developed secure, Web-based filing options, businesses will not need to buy tax-filing software to comply with the requirement.

Also, the new filing requirements apply to:

  • So-called "zero" tax returns in sales, unemployment, fuel, communications services or intangible tax. These are returns in which taxpayers owe no tax but still are required to file a return. Individuals and couples owing no intangible tax are not required to file returns and are not affected by this provision.
  • Businesses that have operations in more than one county and that file consolidated tax returns.
  • Any business or individual that filed unemployment compensation tax reports for five or more employers during the previous year.

While state law allows very limited exceptions for businesses required to e-file tax returns electronically, the law does not allow exceptions for e-payment of tax by businesses that fall into the mandatory filing category. These businesses are required to pay tax electronically, through electronic funds transfer, by credit card or by ACH transfer. Since businesses already must pay tax electronically, the businesses probably will find it convenient to file their tax returns electronically as well.

For general information about the new filing requirements, please call 1-800-352-3671 from within Florida.

Businesses will need to have access to computers using Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 or better. While businesses will be able to access the web-based filing functions on DOR's Website using popular Internet service providers such as AOL, the business must minimize AOL and open Internet Explorer 5.0 to successfully file sales tax, communications service tax or unemployment tax. If the business doesn't have Internet Explorer 5.0, it is available as a free download on the DOR web site.

The Department of Revenue is urging Florida certified public accountants, tax attorneys and other representatives of businesses to remind their clients about the new e-filing requirements. DOR will notify affected businesses about their filing options and obligations later in 2002. Also, the Department will offer other filing options for businesses and individuals who file unemployment tax for five or more employers.

For more information, please go to the DOR web site at http://www.myflorida.com/dor/

Go to the e-Filing website.