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Government whitepaper to examine online GST threshold

Federal assistant treasurer Josh Frydenberg has signalled an upcoming government whitepaper will examine the GST threshold that applies to online overseas sales, in an opinion piece published in the Australian.

Frydenberg wrote that Australian retailers ‘effectively face a reverse tariff’ under the current threshold, where consumers only pay GST on goods bought from overseas suppliers costing more than $1000.

‘A good tax system is characterised by simplicity, efficiency and fairness,’ Frydenberg wrote. ‘It is not fair to taxpayers, or to retailers or their many employees, to exempt overseas online retailers from the GST even if some consumers are enjoying the ride.’

As well as citing united support between ‘politicians and unionists across the party divide’ for lowering the threshold, Frydenberg labelled Australia an international outlier compared to Canada’s C$20 threshold (A$21); the UK’s £15 threshold (A$28); and the US, where tax applies to all online overseas purchases.

A 2014 parliamentary library research paper estimated a little over a quarter of the $15.7 billion dollars Australians spent online in the year to August 2014 went to overseas retailers. Following the most recent meeting between federal and state treasurers on the topic in September 2014, federal Treasurer Joe Hockey said that the states could not agree on a mutually preferred approach to the issue, and solutions would be proposed in an upcoming whitepaper process.

As previously reported by Books+Publishing, the Australian Booksellers Association (ABA) and the Australian Publishers Association (APA) back changes to the overseas threshold, and have raised the GST issue with the current federal government.  

 

Category: Local news