No GST On Overseas Online Shopping Just Yet

No GST On Overseas Online Shopping Just Yet

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.

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Currently, 10 per cent GST is only charged on imported goods if they are worth more than $1000. Local retailers have argued that this puts them at a disadvantage, though it has long been evident that the local price difference is often much more than 10 per cent.

The review suggested lowering this threshold to $500. However, the government has has rejected that suggestion for now, noting that the cost of processing millions of extra parcels would be higher than the extra tax collected. “The threshold for customs duty will remain at $1,000 until such time as sufficient data and systems necessary for efficient and effective customs duty assessment become available.” I wouldn’t be holding my breath for that one, though


  • Even if it were introduced, the additional cost wouldn’t be my greatest concern. The delay in delivery caused by assessment of value, payment of assessed GST and then redelivery (or worse, having to pick it up from some god forsaken backwater) would have a far greater impact than the possible $50-100 extra cost.

    • And perhaps that is the hope of retailers: make online shopping inconvenient to deter us from using it.

      As long as things overseas are cheaper and delivery times are reasonable, people will keep importing.

  • Why does the association keep on insisting on beating a dead horse. Seriously. Lowering the threshold will do nothing to put everything on an even playing field. Some of the items I buy are almost half the price of what they retail here. I still dont see how adding $10 in this situation is going to even out the so called playing field.

    As Grod put it, the only thing it will do is serve to harass and disappoint and delay. Still wont make me go to the store over cheaper prices on the internet. I would love to support local shops (in a lot of cases I do, but because of the increase in pressure from bills and food price increases I am going more and more with the cheaper option.

  • So what is this magical monetary point where it becomes efficient to start collecting the tax ?
    It’s been mentioned on this site and many others before… The cost difference between here and overseas is ridiculous in many cases. Just look up any piece of Tech at Jerry Harvy’s place and you will see that in most cases it’s only the cost of postage that stops people from simply shopping on line!

  • If it led to them developing a better system for paying GST on imports I’d actually welcome it.

    I never buy a single package greater than $1000. Not to avoid tax but last time I did (for a laptop which even after tax was $800 cheaper to import) it took over 3 weeks to process through their backwards system. I don’t know if it’s better now but I had to get documents signed by JP’s and then they wanted things faxed. FAXED!

    • I don’t know how long ago it’s been since you purchased overseas, but none of that is relevant now. I agree that US mail is pathetic with the possible exception of Amazon, but then the problem is whether they ship OS or not.

      • I think Paroxysm was referring to the backwards and painful Australian system for paying the tax and getting the package if it’s over the threshold, not the US mail system.

  • If the government wanted to do something to promote local retailers, they would actually be better off subsidising local postage costs by throwing money at Australia Post, than spending the identical amount of money imposing stupid punitive measures on overseas retailers. Seriously, the cost of logistics has EVERYTHING to do with what’s wrong with retail in this country.

  • There’s a BIG piece of the picture that we’re missing here.. I don’t shop at retailers for one reason.. and ONE reason only. They don’t stock what I am looking for. 99.99% of the time. My online purchases exist simply because I’ve gone to the retail shops looking for an item that suits me needs only to find out that they can’t simply be bothered to stock the item or get it in for me. I’ve encounter this many many times. Until retailers wake up to that they’re not going to get our business. Adding 10% GST onto our purchases and delaying them is only going to cause more frustration and put us FURTHER behind the current 8 ball. Its simply insult to injury as it is.

    • agreed.. It’s more of a pain to physically travel to a store; only to find they don’t stock the part, than it is to order from OS & wait a week or so for it to arrive.

      So the gov. will change these laws & it’ll now take a few weeks for it to arrive & I doubt the retailer will start stocking any extra products because of this.

      so @ the end of the day it’ll just screw with productivity in general.

  • I am all for supporting local businesses, and even if an item is slightly more expensive I will buy local.

    What annoys me is recently I purchased a new DSLR body, and the cheapest local vendor was selling it for $4999, and I bought mine delivered for $3199 + $45 Shipping + $320 Duty (GST) + $45 processing = $3609. So even including the added duty and processing fees, I just can’t justify paying that much difference to go local.

    And to rub salt in the wound, I asked the local retailer how long it would take, he said 2-3 weeks. I got my from HK with GPS tracking in 5 days (2 days for customs).

    • I bought a Marc by Marc Jacobs bag online, last season’s. It arrived within a week, and only cost me $20 shipping, bringing the total up to $465. I then went into David Jones in Sydney city, and saw the same bag being sold as the “current season”, for $725! Why would I spend the money in-store, knowing I’m being charged almost double, and that I can get it delivered directly to me for the tiniest fraction of the cost?

  • The dinosaur retailers simply don’t “get” the reasons why we purchase online and from OS. They’re steadfastly clinging to the only business model they have known. Proof in the pudding they dont’get it… that thing they did the other week trying to copy Black Friday. Infrastructure lasted about six seconds before crashing yet the coverage in the media (guess who spends BIG adverdollars in the media) was about how succesfull it was, even though customers had “some issues” with accessing the site. I heard more than one stegasauras retailer saying how this proves that Australian are willing to spend money online. Errrrr… WE the PEOPLE could ahve told you that without the farce that was your epic fail retailers. In fact I’m fairly sure we DO tell you everytime I click add-to-cart and checkout-by-paypal for items you guys just never seem to get right.

    Case in point from tonight. I’m after a Logitech K750 Mac keyboard. I have one already and I need another. Last one I purchased from Amazon USA about 9 months ago for $82 landed, when AU price retail OR online was firm $149. I need this thing by the weekend if possible and am prepared to pay a “local premium” to do so. However a quick search tells me that sadly it will be Amazon USA that’s getting my money again. And I’ll have it by realy next week. And I’ll save another $60 doing so.

    10% ain’t gonna fix these problems. The comet is coming Gerry.

  • Online shopping is just so much more conveinient.
    im looking at a digital telescope and it looks to be roughly $12000 from any australian retailer
    i can get it from any online store from the states for $2000 + shipping

    the markup is honestly disturbing.

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