Waste Watch: sales tax on out-of-state items

Updated: Tuesday, September 10 2013, 08:27 PM CDT
Waste Watch: sales tax on out-of-state items story image
Most of us have driven past agricultural inspection stations on the interstate.
wast watch

Florida is one of the few states to have them.
Their mission is to protect Florida agriculture from pests.
But they are also acting as a watch dog for taxpayers.

Channel Three's Jenise Fernandez explains in tonight's waste watch report.

Every truck entering Florida is inspected at stations like this one on Interstate Ten in Live Oak.  In addition to looking for food, plant products that might be bad, agents are inspecting bills of lading.

Joshua Glass, Agricultural Agent
"We're inspecting and making sure, see where it's coming from."

Under state law, items brought into the state are subject to the sales and use tax.

Capt. John Boatwright, Dept of Agriculture
"This truck company is probably hauling some building materials that's coming in from out of state."

There is no shortage of people skirting the law. 800 to a thousand times a week, information on cargo is sent to the Department of Revenue.

Capt. John Boatwright
"There is a lot of furniture, they have two specialists dedicated only to furniture."

The program started as a pilot in 1991. Collections last year were 12 million dollars.

Capt. John Boatwright
"We have collected 203 million 844 thousand dollars."

The taxes collected as a result of these inspections means Floridians didn't have to pay higher taxes somewhere else, or see programs cut.

In addition to collecting money the state is owed, agents here also feel like they are helping Florida businesses compete.

Capt. John Boatwright
"Keep these out of state companies from coming in and under cutting them by the six percent sales tax, you know, when they bid on a job."

The Department of Revenue says when it contacts people and the law is explained, more than 99 percent pay the tax they owe without a fight.

Jenise Fernandez, Channel Three News.

If you have an idea for a Waste Watch report visit weartv.com and click on Waste Watch to tell us about it.

Waste Watch: sales tax on out-of-state items
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