What happens if I don't pay Florida Sales Tax as a business owner?

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While Florida business owners may take a lot of pride and joy in their ventures, they also must contend with a lot of responsibility. Because there is no personal income tax in Florida, a business’s sales tax is critical to the economy. The specifics of the taxes themselves are outlined in Chapter 212 of Florida Statutes. If these specifics aren’t followed and the sales tax is not paid out, then it becomes delinquent sales tax, which is aggressively pursued.

Tax issues never get better with time, but there is an opportunity to create a stipulation agreement with the Florida Department of Revenue to get the sales tax paid off. Minimal delinquent sales tax might be easier to manage, but if owed sales tax is completely overwhelming, then a stipulation agreement will seem like a nice option, but it ultimately won’t be sustainable.

What happens if I can’t find a good stipulation agreement?

The business owner may have their sales tax registration revoked through an administrative complaint. Also, do note that those who continue to build up their delinquent sales tax will get this punishment as well. Without that registration, the business cannot engage in business activity that involves sales tax.

After that revocation, the business owner can face a personal penalty that is equal to double the sales tax owed. The Department of Revenue may also refer the case to the State Attorney’s Office, who could file charges for theft of sales taxes, which is a felony that can garner one to five years in prison typically, but in extreme cases can get up to 30.

Is everything subject to sales tax?

There are definitely exemptions depending on the kind of transaction. For instance, in a retail store, beer and cigarettes do have a sales tax, but bread and milk do not. Or for auto part dealers, sales tax is exempt if the customer has a resale certificate.

The basics of sales tax

Most Florida businesses have to file the DR-15 sales tax return every month, on the 20th of the month after the filing period. Other business file on quarterly, semi-annually, or once a year. But this is only when a business gathers less than $1000 in sales tax. If the return or payment comes late, there is a penalty of 10%. That payment gathers interest at a nine percent annual rate.

Bringing in an attorney who knows tax law could make an enormous difference. As mentioned before, tax problems never get better with time. Tax collection agencies are ultimately an apparatus to collect money. Whatever personal problems a business owner might have will not matter to them. They just want the money. There is much more criminal potential in cases like these, so acting quickly is crucial. It’s a lot easier to prevent more problems that it is to untangle current ones. An attorney who knows tax law will be able to assess the current situation and provide an outlook as well as provide leverage while the case plays out.


The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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