The Australian Government Will Block Online Stores Not Collecting GST

The Australian Government Will Block Online Stores Not Collecting GST

Under laws coming into effect as of next year, if it wants to, the Federal Government can block access to overseas retailer’s websites if they aren’t collecting GST — even for purchases under $1000. Here’s how.

Choice recently revealed the loophole, a part of regulations to be implemented as of July 2017. Overseas businesses will have to collect GST on everything if they have an Australian annual turnover of $75,000 or more.

Local retailers blaming losing sales to overseas sites prompted the change, which will see an extra $300 million in GST collected.

But how are the new rules going to be enforced anyway?

A Treasury Official told Choice that first, the Government will ask the businesses to comply. Failing that, the Government will fall back on treaty arrangements and international law to force them to comply. And if that doesn’t work, as a “last resort”, Government powers will be used to block the retailer’s websites.

The Telecommunications Act gives the government the power to make telecommunications companies help enforce laws related to “[protecting] the public revenue”.

So if you are buying items from overseas websites because you can’t get those products locally, and those websites don’t comply with our GST rules, you may find your path obscured by the heavy arm of the Government.


      • I think he’s saying that, unless the government is intending on blocking the physical postage of goods, they may find it difficult to just stop people accessing an overseas online shop, who will send the item as long as they get paid…

        • The government may find it easy to intercept delivery of expensive goods from such places to check relevant duties have been paid.

          • That’s exactly what I mean. It’ll be easier for the government to intercept the delivery than for them to block access to the website.

            Europe or at least Germany does this all the time. When I was living there last year, I had to go to a customs office to pick up any packagaes that were sent from overseas which didn’t report a VAT charge…

          • Did you not learn from Silk road? It costs a lot of resources and money to check packages and I’m sure they won’t waste their time on a few dollars of GST. Sure some unlucky people will have their orders intercepted but the government cannot afford to stop the majority.

          • Actually, my experience has been that some international delivery companies are really happy to be proactive about this as they collect money for the government and charge you (or the government) a bit on the top for performing this service.

  • Sounds like a very expensive exercise at all levels, total cost at first glance would seem to outweigh the revenue.

  • What tool will they use to estimate the turnover of someone advertising on [for example] Ebay?
    If found guilty, will they block Ebay completely or just try to censor the website?

    If found to be unlawfully blocking a site, what compensation will they offer?

  • Total fail on the Gov’t’s understanding (both sides AFAIK).

    It seems Jerry of Hardly Normal is rattling the Lib’s cage again??

  • We all know that us Australian’s pay more for goods than just about anywhere else in the world. It has nothing to do with GST or Tax just the greedy bricks and mortar major retailers, Hello Harvey Norman.
    So why shouldn’t any consumer have the right to buy any goods at the cheapest price. If the likes of Harvey Norman, the biggest whinger about online buying, want to stop it, bring down your inflated prices.

  • Fat chance they have of making it work. Apart from the massive collection costs, the government won’t be able to check whether every parcel from overseas has a) taxable content, and b) whether it has been collected by the overseas retailer, and c) paid to the ATO.

    • Private delivery companies are quite happy to check incoming parcels and collect a portion of the revenue from the government or the recipient.

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