As a business owner in the state of Florida, you are required to submit regular sales and use tax returns to the Florida Department of Revenue using form DR-15EZ. Businesses that collected less than $200,000 in sales tax during the previous year and that meet all other eligibility requirements may use this easy (EZ) format to report and file their tax liability. Whether filing online or mailing in a paper return with a payment, here's what you need to know about this simplified form.
Declare Gross Sales
The first line on the Florida sales tax form DR-15EZ is for you to record your gross sales. When calculating this amount, be sure that you do not include the 6% sales tax you collected at the point of each sale. Only list the total sales figures; otherwise, your sales tax liability will be too high. Not all the sales you made were taxable, but the state wants to know your overall sales for each period.
Record Exempt Sales
You can reduce your sales tax liability by subtracting exempt sales. You do not have to collect sales tax on items that a customer purchases for resale or from organizations that are tax-exempt. However, you must have the appropriate tax-exempt certificates on file. Additionally, some items and services are specifically exempt from sales tax. Check with the Florida Department of Revenue to see if your goods or services apply.
Tally Your Taxable Sales
After you subtract the exempt sales from gross sales, you need to add in one more thing — the use tax. Use tax is the amount owed on goods or services that you purchased for your business where sales tax was not collected from you when you made the purchase. Florida law requires that goods purchased out of state, most often online, as well as items you initially purchased for resale but then kept for personal use, are subject to this use tax. Since you didn't pay sales tax at the time of purchase, the state wants you to pay it now.
Total Tax Includes Discretionary Sales Surtax
To arrive at your total sales and use tax liability, you also need to add your discretionary sales surtax, which is determined by the county in which your business operates. This tax only applies to the first $5,000 on each particular item, so you only need to collect and report up to that amount. There are separate lines for reporting this tax (lines A and B), and you can deduct any amount of sales not subject to the tax.
Lawful Deductions and Credits
You can also reduce your tax liability by taking lawful deductions. For example, you can take a lawful deduction if you collected sales tax from a customer and then refunded it to the customer when he returned an item. You can also deduct any sales tax you paid for an item you purchased for company use and then sold to a customer. If you received a credit memo from the Department of Revenue, you can reduce the amount owed even more. List that credit amount on a separate line of the DR-15EZ.
Other Important Items to Include
When completing the DR-15EZ form, be sure to include your correct sales certificate number, reporting period and surcharge tax rate. Also, make any necessary address changes and include your signature.
File and Pay on Time
Your tax liability can increase or decrease depending on your filing method and timeliness. Receive a collection allowance deduction of 2.5% of the first $1,200 of the amount due up to $30 when you file your report and e-pay online. However, if you are late with your filing and payment, calculate a penalty (10% of the amount owed or at least $50) and interest, which is calculated based on your filing date.
If you do not owe any tax for a particular reporting period, you must still file a return. Returns are due the first of the month following the end of each reporting period. They are considered late if not received by the 20th of the month.
- Florida Department of Revenue: Florida Sales and Use Tax
- Florida Department of Revenue: Sales and Use Tax Return - DR 15EZ
- Florida Department of Revenue: Instructions for DR-15EZ Sales and Use Tax Returns
- WFLA News Channel 8: Florida Residents May Have to Pay Tax on Online Purchases From Out-of-State Businesses
- DR-15EZ and tax collected is due by the 1st of the month following the collection and late after the 20th.
- Interest rates and surtax rates change, so make sure to check Florida Department website for correct tax rates.
Elisabeth Natter is a business owner and professional writer. She has done public relations work for several nonprofit organizations and currently creates content for clients of her suburban Philadelphia communications and IT solutions company. Her writing is often focused on small business issues and best practices for organizations. Her work has appeared in the business sections of chron.com, azcentral and Happenings Media. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Temple University.