CHOICE membership

Gerry Harvey wins, but still complains! Major loss of competition



I’m also an older single female who gets ignored in HN stores. Like @mudpuppy, i go there to look and then buy elsewhere, including online.


Not a personal problem with GH then but with the rules. The trend over the last 30 years to laissez faire capitalism has benefited those at the top of the heap disproportionately. They call it trickle down economics but this is duckspeak, gushing upwards is more accurate.

But there we go again, wandering into the forbidden territory of off topic. Best cease.


Very harsh on Gerry Harvey,but a long and overdue change for overseas markets to be charged with tax.Should have been happening for years


I don’t mind paying the 10% GST on items I purchase overseas. I do mind though having to pay more than the 10% to pay for the collection of that 10%. Contrary to your statement which seems to assert that no GST is collected on Overseas purchases anything $1,000 or more has GST imposed on importation already and is collected before the items are then released to the purchaser. So it is being charged but the reason $1,000 was picked as the cutoff point was the calculated cost of recovering the GST on amounts less than this would be more than what was levied.

By that same logic that it’s about time GST tax was paid on overseas product ie your statement “overdue change for overseas markets to be charged with tax”, then Overseas Governments should be collecting for the Australian Government 10% GST on every amount of postage and courier costs for mail and articles sent to Australia, every piece of paper and every envelope that postage or couier impost is attached to as they are all Goods and Services being used for Australian citizens, remembering that GST is collected here on all those items when we use them to send to places in Australia or elsewhere in the World. But if they won’t collect it then the receiver should pay that GST, so every letter you receive from overseas will now or I should say could be hit with GST by the Australian Government.

In support of my claim that GST can be imposed on delivery costs eg postage from overseas I supply this from the GST Act:
“(2) The value of a *taxable importation is the sum of:
(a) the *customs value of the goods imported; and
(b) the amount paid or payable:
(i) for the *international transport of the goods to their *place of consignment in the indirect tax zone; and
(ii) to insure the goods for that transport; to the extent that the amount is not already included under paragraph (a)”


They have their own tax systems. If other countries decide to retaliate by similarly charging their own VAT or whatever on low value Australian imports, then all consumers lose.

This is an expensive move by the Commonwealth, that all experts have recommended against. It will cost more to administer than it collects, it will reduce competition, and it will make it harder for Australia to compete internationally. It’s a non-tariff tariff.

If the GST is to be collected in relation to personal imports valued at less than $1,000, then it should be collected from the recipient - as it is for imports valued at $1,000 or more! Of course, that wouldn’t inconvenience international retailers and prompt them to consider dropping Australia from their customer lists. In other words, it wouldn’t get Gerry and his ilk the desired outcome - because they are more than 10% away from competing with international competitors!

Australians pay too much for goods and services; this change simply writes that as a rule in stone by discouraging those competitors. It is totally covfefe!

Note: edited to remove reference to removed text.


Yes they do, and many other countries are also considering applying their value added tax/GSTs or local taxes on imports. Some already have. In the EU, they have implemented a low threshold of 10 to 22 Euros, depending on the country of import. This equates to a threshold of about AUD15-33. Quite different to the $1000 threshold that has existed in Australia.

Australian goods imported to the EU have such tax applied already, if the value exceeds these threshoods.

Australia is one of the first ones to apply its local GST to any value, but it is likely that countries that don’t have zero threshold or low threshold will follow (or introduce low thresholds) in the coming years.

The existing system is full of holes as it relies on those companies with provide buying platforms in Australia to collect the tax. There will be many which will fall through the net, such as using buying platforms in other countries…unless the companies block these platforms like Amazon has done.


Who is responsible for collecting it?


The import VAT may either be included into the overall delivery price or not.

If the import VAT is not included in the price paid to the seller (which is the common situation), you will have to pay it to the postal company or express courier, or directly to the customs if you clear the goods at customs yourself. In the latter case, the procedure differs according to the country.

If you pay all inclusive, you will be paying import VAT to the seller when paying the total price. But if the import VAT is not properly estimated by the seller, or if the seller fails to ensure the transfer of this VAT amount to the customs, you must be aware that national legislation can hold you jointly liable.


Surely the point is that the savings from buying on the internet from overseas is far more than 10%. Frankly for most items saving 10% may not be worth the wait to receive the goods. A case in point for me. Someone stole my mobile so I was in the market for a new one. Doing my research on line of course, I decided on the phone I wanted. Then I go looking for it in every single bricks and mortar shop near me including those with Mr Norman’s name over the door!. The cost quoted was plus/minus $800. So I go online and can get one from Hong Kong for $475 plus $75 express and insured postage. If you add the GST (which I didn’t have to pay) it comes to $597.50 still a saving of $202.50 or over 25% even if I had had to pay the gst. As it is my saving was over 31%.

And that is why people shop online from overseas stores.

Mr Norman is sadly mistaken if he thinks that by Amazon prohibiting access to the US and UK sites will mean that we will all flock to Australian stores. I for one will look for other UK stores from which to buy the gifts for family in the UK. Buying from the Australia site would not only cost more for the product (and above the gst 10%) but the postage charge is prohibitive which is why I buy overseas in the first place!


Thanks, @phb. It appears from the linked EU guidance that the seller is not required to collect tax on behalf of the EU. That makes the situation very different from what Australia has decided to implement - and I would argue much fairer to the seller, regardless of their size and capacity.

Two of the major problems with the changes to Australia’s GST on imports are:

  1. it will cost more to enforce than it raises in revenue; and
  2. the change requires the seller to enforce Australian law, rather than putting the onus on the recipient.

I wonder what AliExpress will do? This article names Alibaba but provides no clarity. What about Etsy? These, like Ebay, are platforms that simply host transactions rather than being suppliers in their own right.

This article from April 2017 points out the discrimination the new legislation puts in place against small overseas suppliers to Australians.

Yes, but the way this is being implemented discourages overseas companies from selling to Australians.


The GST must also be applied to the postage so your cost would have been increased by another $7.50 but you would still be a lot ahead.


This website states:

Australia has a postal system which is reasonably efficient. One oddity of the system is that G.S.T. (Goods and Services Tax) applies to domestic postage, but not to international postage.

It is of course more confusing than that, but the answer to this question on the ATO Community website clearly implies that international transport is not subject to GST. The next answer states directly that GST does not apply to international post.


Yet the Act clearly states that [quote=“grahroll, post:24, topic:15575”]
(b) the amount paid or payable:
(i) for the *international transport of the goods to their *place of consignment in the indirect tax zone

and that includes the cost of insurance.

DHL or Startrack or similar will attract GST then.


Huh? "
1 July 2018"?

Adobe has been charging this tax since the beginning of the year!


All well and good but if I buy something from the UK it already has VAT at 20% added and I pay it just like anyone from UK does. I have no issue with that. Occasionally you may see a lower price for Australian customers because they remove the VAT on exports but this is very rare to see. But this new GST on overseas purchases means I am also paying a further 10% on a 20% tax (and the additional postage as others pointed out) already levied in the UK.

So we in Australia, already forced to pay the ‘Australia tax’ just for residing in Australia, we now have to pay tax on foreign tax as well. Mr Harvey must be beside himself. “Magic Millions” indeed!

Or we can apply to the UK (and other) tax office for a refund of the local tax. Since you can do this at Customs at airports or ports in the UK, shouldn’t be a problem right? Right!


postulative please let me know how to access the or sites when they will be geoblocked here in Australia and all attempts redirected to the site. It’s not about the delivery address - many sellers already state they do not deliver to Australia but you can still access the amazon site.


Some very good points in this thread and I’ll throw my 2c in (exc GST). This change is not a cash grab by our meatheads in Canberra, it’s a cash grab at the behest of their financial masters - Australian Business. It will have diddly squat effect on making Australians shop at Australian stores because as has been noted above the savings are more often greater than 10%. I for one will continue to buy online even if the costs end up equal as a personal protest against these shenanigans. A case in point regarding books (not a Hardly Normal product). For years now I have been buying the majority of my books from The Book Depository, and I do research every purchase here first. I’ve found that the vast majority of the time it is far cheaper to buy from The Book Depository than from any business here in Australia - whether that be cookbooks, textbooks, fiction or kids books! Why would I pay $70+ for a cookbook here (just because the business is greedy) when I can purchase the same for less than half with no shipping charged? It’s starting to change a bit with Booktopia here becoming much more competitive, to the point were I’m often shopping between the two sites.

I’d love to shop with Aussie businesses and keep people employed and the money here, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay through the nose just to do that. When businesses here pull their heads in and stop trying to maximise the profit off each sale, then I’ll shop here more often.

Side note regarding Hardly Normal and the service levels. Their staffing levels have a high turnover because of the pay model they use. If you work for them you are not on a normal wage, but a commission structure with retainer attached. This often results in potential customers being judged and rated by staff as they enter the store. If a staff member believes they are going to make more moola off someone else than you, they will serve the other person first. I’ve personally tested this by walking into the same store twice in the one day - once dressed in t-shirt, tracksuit pants and thongs and in the afternoon in a business suit after a meeting. In the t-shirt the only attention I got was from the security guard (no sales staff) but in the suit I was approached by 4 different staff falling over themselves to serve me lol. This is why Hardly Normal often gets two opposing views on their service standards - some like those above rightly complaining about being ignored, and some others rightly complaining that the staff are annoying and won’t leave them alone lol.


Occasionally, using overseas retail sites, I order gifts for friends and those of my family who live overseas. Am I now to be prevented (by sites such as Amazon, and any others which decide to ban ban orders from Australia) from making gifts in this way?


One must remember that as other countries have their own sovereignty, they can make an pose taxes on their citizens and businesses as they chose fit. They can also also impose taxes on imports (often called tariffs) or exports as well. Just because Australia doesn’t do it, doesn’t mean that it is unfair for other countries to do so.

Whether a VAT is paid in another country (correctly or incorrectly), this does not provide any GST tax exemptions in Australia. If one chooses to purchase a product with local VAT applied, this must be taken into consideration along with the Australian applied GST after 1 July 2018, for goods being imported into Australia.

It is also worth noting for the UK example, VAT does not need to be applied to goods sent to non-EU countries. In effect, goods exported from the UK to Australia should be exempt from UK VAT. If a VAT is to be charged on UK goods at the point of sale, one could ask the seller to exempt the VAT based on current VAT legislative requirements. If one chooses not to request a VAT exemption or a VAT exemption is not forthcoming, then is one still chooses to buy the item it can be assumed that one is happy to pay the VAT like a UK citizen.


It is relatively easy for Amazon to block these websites from Australia…they read the source IP address (that is of your connection to the internet) and if this is a foreign IP address, it is blocked.

VPNs are one way to bypass the block, but potentially to access say the US Amazon website, one would need to have a VPN hosted in the US. As outlined above, even if one can access the US Amazon website, Amazon has indicated that it won’t post to Australia from US Amazon. This means that if the US Amazon is to be use for purchases, it will need to be posted somewhere locally and then re-posted back to Australia. This will increase time and delivery costs.