Business groups call for action on online GST loophole

Despite Australian retailers employing more than 10% of the workforce and providing more jobs than any other sector, they are losing $4 billion a year to overseas retailers, with business groups united in their call for the $1,000 GST threshold loophole on overseas online sales to be removed.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) welcomed support from federal and state politicians and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in regard to closing the low value GST loophole once and for all.

Above: UK retailer Marks & Spencer is offering online deliveries to Australia from Asia

“In a bid to protect retail jobs, new Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has backed a review of the GST loophole that allows for goods under $1000 purchased from online retailers to be exempt from the goods and services tax, saying retailers were operating ‘with one hand tied behind their backs’,” the ARA said.

ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said there have been many road blocks in achieving tax equality for retailers, the latest being the Government of Western Australia playing politics to get a bigger slice of the GST pie.

“It’s time for all businesses, governments and consumers to fix this problem, which loses state governments legitimate revenue for schools, hospitals and police, and costs thousands of retail jobs in Australia,” Mr Zimmerman said.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCCI) called for a major rethink of the current $1,000 online GST-free threshold that places domestic sellers at a competitive disadvantage, and would like to see the threshold lowered or abolished.

Kate Carnell AO, ACCI CEO, said: “A significant proportion of lower value parcels come from a small number of large foreign companies that could easily collect and remit GST to the Australian government.”
National Retail Association CEO Trevor Evans said the existing tax loophole, which excludes GST from imports under $1000, is damaging Australian businesses, destroying local jobs and depriving Governments of much-needed revenue.

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