Government will block overseas websites that refuse to collect GST

CHOICE has found a legislative loophole that would allow the Federal Government to use special powers to block access to overseas retailers’ websites if they fail to comply with new rules that require them to collect goods and services tax (GST) for purchases below $1000.

What do you think of the new regulations?

I wonder if Turnbull will back track on his promise to leave VPN users alone now that you have raised this subject on the Forum .


Whilst I don’t think it’s going to make a lot of difference considering that it’s still much cheaper to buy products from overseas retailers, I think the Governments proposed regulations are fair enough.

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so if I buy a product for $1 and they don’t collect gst how will the Govt know and is it for both New and Used

Wouldn’t it be better to impose the gst on the source (paypal, bank, credit card etc) where money is debited from for overseas transactions rather than from a foreign retailer. Would make more sense and remove opportunity for tax avoidance.

And how much will that cost the taxpayer? At a time when we are struggling with massive debt and are expected to cop severe changes in welfare and superannuation, how will the Government fund the chasing of an overseas company who refused to either charge or handover the GST on a say a $10 purchase?

This is so ridiculous because even if there was a way to charge the Australian purchaser in Australia, it will not stop people buying over the net. The savings are generally far more than 10% which is precisely why people buy on line in the first place. The Government would do far better to tackle the geo-pricing which ensures Australians pay more for the same products here than other countries do. Then people may just buy from bricks and mortar stores instead.

And what about when you buy overseas for delivery in the country of supply? Most of my online shopping is for gifts for family in the UK bought from UK stores. I do this because not only is the gift cheaper (usually) but I don’t have to pay the outrageous postage from here either which can be more than the actual gift.


Well said. I agree.

It will be virtually impossible to police, and how would they enforce it anyway? So we start blocking international retailers? Then what? the international community begins blocking Australian online sellers? How does that help the economy!

This is simple another stupid idea with the intention of “being seen to be doing something! This is something, let’s do it!”

I have been trying to get a written ruling from the ATO for an online business I’d planned to start here for over 4 years. It’s just too hard for them. Especially for digital products (ie. no physical delivery is needed).


Just do it ! It’s a no brainer. Feds should use all available means to stamp out GST-evasion. Consumers should also be penalised for knowingly purchasing goods for which GST is not paid. When ordering we must obtain a clear statement that correct GST is included and itemised in the price. I am sick and tired of hearing unsubstantiated claims about enforcement-costs, compliance-costs, etc.


Agree, I want to know when you buy from a person not a company, You don’t have to be a registered business to sell online either here or overseas especially for low cost items

Are you among the myriad Australian business people who continue to bleat about how it is all GST that makes your business difficult?

I buy overseas because Australian business does not provide the range, and in many cases does not supply the product in any form, and almost always demands a far higher or even multiple of the price. I just bought some speciality screws from the UK for about $AUD14 delivered. Cost from an Aussie, $AUD45 (“used” with no guarantee of what is in the “unopened box”); no Australian source for the “new” product could be found.

I have a good mate who has a small shop and he gets 70% of his stock direct from overseas because if he had to pay the local distributor prices he would not have a business. He gets 30% locally to maintain relationships.

When Australian retailers become competitive and stop thinking we are in a corner of the world and ignorant of the rest of it and they can do whatever they want to generate what they feel are their deserved profits, I might have some sympathy. (/reverse rant)

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Why don’t they just tax the multinationals that don’t pay tax instead of all this time wasting, energy wasting crap that they seem to say just to make headlines and look like they are doing something. If they actually managed to tax corporations and get some money moving around the country we wouldn’t have to worry about this stuff. There is great stuff overseas and great stuff here. It gets bought. The government is constantly trying to find new ways to get crumbs.

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Off shore business are soft targets. Tax the local multinational offices and donations could dry up. Cannot have any of that now can we.

The government’s own studies showed that it costs more to collect GST than it would collect on sales of less than $1,000, which is why the $1k figure came about. But the likes of Gerry Harvey whined that they couldn’t compete and the government, as always, did his bidding.

This will, by the government’s own reckoning, cost that taxpayer. But it’ll keep the likes of Gerry Harvey sweet and and the “donations” rolling in; and that, after all, is what counts.


Which is exactly why our politicians should just wear labels with their corporate sponsors on them like racing car drivers so at least we can see they are bought and paid for instead of working for us.


There are literally millions of sites worldwide where you can buy something posted to Australia and I even had a website till a few years ago i sold to the world but I was classed as a hobby by the ATO and couldn’t get an ABN so how does the Gov’t intend to get GST from private sellers on small websites selling some new or second hand goods.


The cost of implementing this will be in the vicinity of $2 Billion AUD, and will only gather $650 million in tax. Every single parcel and postal item in this contry will have to go through customs. And all parcels will have a processing fee, plus delivery fee added to it.

Whilst I agree with paying GST, I do not agree with a variant of the ALP Mining Resources Tax. The bureaucracy created around this will damage our economy, and the cost of business will go up. Furthermore, it won’t level the playing field at all. The only way to do this is to allow all business to import from overseas, to increase competition.

The other thing yo need to consider is, should you receive a parcel from a relative, as a gift for Christmas or a birthday, YOU will be liable for ALL any any GST and collection fees associated.

Now, is that fair, reasonable and good government?


Latest news is this isn’t going ahead now. I guess unhappy consumers and the threat of large corporations such as eBay and Amazon etc refusing to sell in Australia has shut this conversation down from the politicians. I’m glad. I buy a lot of books etc from booktopia and little things from eBay. I would hate to not be able to buy things from overseas just because of this complicated gst tax.


I’m very unhappy with the likes of Gerry Harvey for lobbying for this change to GST on low cost items imported from overseas. They seem to forget that delivery delays and postage charges already impose additional costs on importing items from overseas. It seems an excuse to not compete seriously. It is obviously impractical to levy this tax. Who benefits? Not the consumer. Not the government.


All parcels and packages (and all letters too) already go through customs michael.boldys and although they can find and track a great deal, they would not be able to know whether GST had been paid on that particular good.

The issue of receiving a gift is also problematic in the way you suggest by making the recipient responsible for GST. If the product was purchased overseas by a relative they more than likely paid the local GST on purchase (e.g. 20% in the UK). And given that the recipient did not infact make a purchase nor is importing it themselves, why would they be responsible for GST on a product they hadn’t ordered or paid for?

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I have no doubt any GST recovered won’t cover the cost of the bureaucracy set up to administer it. Happened with the Howard government’s infamous superannuation surcharge. It was scrapped for the simple reason that it cost more to administer than the money raised.