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Amazon to block Oz shoppers from Amazon US

Australian consumers will be unable to purchase items from Amazon’s international websites as the multinational moves to comply with new GST laws affecting online retailers, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Amazon announced yesterday that its US website and its other overseas sites would no longer ship items to Australian addresses. Local shoppers attempting to order from Amazon.com will be redirected to Amazon.com.au, the multinational’s Australian site, which launched late last year.

‘While we regret any inconvenience this may cause customers, we have had to assess the workability of the legislation as a global business with multiple international sites,’ said Amazon in a statement.

From 1 July, online retailers such as Amazon will be required to apply 10% GST on all online purchases shipped to Australia from overseas, under new GST laws. The law currently applies only to items worth more than $1000 purchased from online retailers. A similar ‘Amazon tax’ has been passed in New Zealand, and will come into effect in October 2019.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said the laws were designed to ‘level the playing field’ for Australian businesses. ‘The second biggest company in the world, run by the richest man in the world, shouldn’t get a leave pass from paying tax in Australia, and they won’t under these new laws to be introduced from July 1 that level the playing field,’ said Morrison.

Amazon has established a ‘global store’ option on its Australian site, which offers more than four million products that were previously only accessible from Amazon.com. Sales of these products will collect and remit the required 10% GST, however, the Australian Financial Review reports that the global store offers only a fraction of the 480 million products currently available on Amazon.com.

In a newsletter that the Australian Booksellers Association (ABA) sent to its members on 31 May, ABA president Joel Becker responded to the news, describing it as ‘an interesting PR tactic in [Amazon’s] ever-growing desire to resist taxes’. ‘Apparently, it is too difficult for the most tech-savvy retailer in the world to do what every business in Australia (and in the US [through] state and local sales taxes, and in the UK [through] VAT) already does,’ wrote Becker.

In a further statement to Books+Publishing, Becker claimed: ‘There is a great deal of misinformation being spread about the difficulty of implementation. At the point of sale, Amazon would simply collect ten percent tax, which they would remit to the ATO. One wonders if there is a broader agenda, and will Book Depository (wholly owned by Amazon) be following suit?’

The ABA has long lobbied for change to Australia’s model for collecting GST on low-value overseas purchases. The impending change was drafted in 2016, and passed in 2017, but was delayed for a year after Amazon and other overseas retailers objected to the government’s proposed model.

The news comes only a few days after Amazon founder Jeff Bezos made headlines for his plans to sell off US$1 billion (A$1.3b) worth of Amazon stocks each year to put towards funding a permanent settlement on the Moon. Bezos said the Earth is ‘not a very good place to do heavy industry’. ‘But in the not-too-distant future—I’m talking decades, maybe 100 years—it’ll start to be easier to do a lot of the things that we currently do on Earth in space, because we’ll have so much energy,’ said Bezos.

Books+Publishing has sought a further comment from Amazon.

 

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Category: Local news