Federal Government and State Treasurers expect to eliminate GST Low Value Threshold on offshore retail purchases
On Friday morning State Treasurers will be meeting with Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey to discuss reform to the GST. It is being widely reported that the Federal Government and State Treasurers will agree to eliminate the Low Value Threshold on online offshore purchases – bringing tax fairness to the collection of GST.
The Australian Booksellers Association has been an industry leader in supporting the abolition of a Low Value Threshold for more than four years – since it was first canvassed at the 2011 Productivity Commission report. We have always regarded collection of GST on online offshore purchases to be the responsibility of the seller, and not to be a costly Customs collection issue, which is how it has been treated up to now.
At various stages, there has been discussion of setting thresholds of $20 or $25. Our view has been that by casting the net to cover all purchases, there are massively less administration and policing costs then there would be in setting arbitrary LVTs. We have been really pleased to see other key retail bodies coming to a common view about a zero threshold.
According to Joel Becker (pictured above on the right, with Lincoln Gould), “Kudos to the Government – including Treasurer Joe Hockey; Deputy Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg; and particularly Small Business Minister Bruce Billson, an early supporter of this crucial reform – for their support of the closure of this loophole in GST tax collection. I also note the long-time advocacy by former NSW Treasurer, now Premier, Mike Baird, for his ongoing advocacy for this change. We anticipate this will receive bi-partisan support, as it brings much needed revenue to provide essential services.”
“While hundreds of thousands of Australian businesses collect and pay our fair share of GST, offshore businesses do not currently pay the GST (on purchases of less than $1000), do not employ Australians, and do not contribute to Australia’s hospitals, schools, roads and other essential services. New technologies have reduced the cost of collection of this revenue. There are now cost-effective, if not cost neutral, ways of collecting the revenue.”
“These reforms have universal support within the Australian book industry – the Australian Publishers Association, Australian Society of Authors and Copyright Agency. The Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia led by Peter Strong, a former bookseller has worked closely with the ABA in advocating this key reform to the Government.”
“As Joe Hockey said, ‘How do I say to a bookseller in Lane Cove, that they have obligations to pay tax, but Amazon selling the same book from overseas doesn't? It's unsustainable.’
In an interview with Frank Kelly on ABC RN Breakfast, Josh Frydenberg was asked if the threshold will be lowered to zero. He replied, “I hope it does.”
We await with optimism the outcome of the State Treasurers meeting on Friday.
For further comments or information:
Chief Executive Officer, Australian Booksellers Association