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October 1, 2002

Enrollment Begins to Comply with New Law; Sign Up for Easy Electronic Filing

TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Department of Revenue is now enrolling businesses to use web-based options to file tax returns for major state taxes, the Department announced today. Web-based filing helps taxpayers correct errors on returns before they are filed, and is safe, convenient and FREE.

To enroll and use the web filing tools, taxpayers should go online to the DOR web site at and look for the Customer Information Bulletin item or "e-Services."

A new state law will require businesses that collected more than $30,000 in the last year in sales, fuel or communications services tax from their customers to file and pay their tax returns electronically. 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. In addition, the law requires electronic filing of unemployment tax quarterly reports and electronic payment of tax for businesses that had 10 or more employees in any calendar quarter in the 12 months ending June 30, 2002. Individuals or businesses filing unemployment tax reports for five or more businesses also are required to e-file and e-pay.

Affected businesses will be required to file and pay tax using the new methods starting January 1, 2003. Businesses meeting requirements will be required to file reports and pay unemployment compensation tax electronically for the quarter ending March 31, 2003. Of course, the Department invites businesses to use the e-filing options any time.

Businesses must enroll in the new system and receive a password in order to use the web-based filing options. For general information about the new filing requirements, please call 1-800-352-3671 from within Florida. For questions about unemployment compensation tax, please call 1-800-482-8293.

No business will be required to purchase a computer or obtain Internet access to comply with the law. Waivers from the new e-filing requirement are available under the new state law 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 or by ACH transfer. Businesses also may comply with the electronic payment requirement by using the Department's "Tele-file" telephone system.

The new Florida law mirrors a national trend for increasing electronic filing requirements. Recently, the state of Minnesota required all business and individual taxpayers to e-file all tax returns electronically.

In addition to businesses that meet the electronic filing criteria, the new requirements also 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 are still 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 prepared and filed unemployment compensation tax reports for five or more employers during the previous year.

Businesses will need access to a computer using Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 or better. While businesses will be able to access the web-based filing functions on DOR's web site using popular Internet service providers such as AOL (America Online), 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, a free download is available 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 electronic filing requirements. DOR is notifying affected businesses about their filing options and obligations starting late this month. The Department will offer other filing options for businesses and individuals who file unemployment tax for five or more employers.