One of the main arguments against lowering the level at which GST is applied to online sales is that the cost of actually collecting that tax is likely to be higher than the amount of revenue collected from it. A new study by Choice confirms that, and suggests that the cost of some items might almost double.
The push to add GST to all online sales made to Australians — not just those which cost more than $1000 — appears to be gaining momentum. The argument is that we need to create a “level playing field” for Australian businesses, but when the price difference for some goods is already as high as 200 per cent, the idea that increasing overseas costs by 10 per cent by adding GST will cause a change in buying habits is frankly laughable.
Dear Lifehacker, I was recently purchasing something at an Australian online store and noticed the prices listed next to the items did not include the GST. They added the amount of GST at the end when you were paying for it. Do websites based in Australia have to have advertise prices with the GST included, or can they be sneaky and add all the fees at the end? Thanks, Taxing Times
Dear Lifehacker, I recently did a photoshoot for a company my cousin works for. The photos were entirely free and I provided them with a selection with my watermark on them. The company has since got in contact with me, asking to buy the rights to the images so they can edit them and use them in publications.
Dear Lifehacker, I am an enthusiastic Android user and I am looking at creating some Android apps to sell on the Play Store. I don’t plan to give up the day job, but instead develop some apps in my spare time. What are my tax implications? Do I need to register with the ATO? I’m also considering emigrating to be closer to my family in the next few years. What are the implications if I move countries? Would I need to de-register with the ATO then? Thanks, Forever Bamboozled By Tax
Agitation to “level the playing field” by imposing the Australian goods and services tax (GST) on most items we purchase online reached fever pitch last week with the release of the Low Value Parcel Processing Taskforce report, which recommended imposing the GST on all purchases worth $500 or more. But don’t panic: your Christmas shopping is safe for now.
It’s a line of argument that Gerry Harvey completely denuded of credibility: allegedly the main reason shoppers buy online is that the lack of GST on online purchases under $1000 makes them cheaper than local competitors. It takes about five seconds of work to demonstrate that that position is total rubbish, since the savings from overseas shopping on many products are way higher than the 10 per cent GST rate. So will anyone stand up to support it?
A National Retailers Association report last week suggested that thousands of Australian retail jobs will be lost because offshore shopping sites don’t have to pass on the 10 per cent GST required of local stores. However, it’s hard to square off that claim against the reality that goods purchased from overseas are often cheaper by a much larger margin. Here are seven examples (one for each day of the week).