Economy

The retail industry’s campaign to charge online sales with GST is still going strong

Patrick Stafford /

The retail industry is still hopeful of a change to the GST import threshold, with the head of the Shopping Centres’ Council of Australia saying it still supports raising the threshold to capture potential tax made from offshore sales.

The comments come just days after the Australian Bureau of Statistics released figures showing the number of offshore online sales is growing at a faster rate than many in the industry predicted.

Steven Sewell, the chairman of the Shopping Centre Council of Australia, has told Inside Retail in a statement the extra money from offshore sales “should be flowing to our state and territory governments to help build and run our schools, hospitals and other services”.

“The lost revenue also means other state taxes are being increased in order to provide these services. Retailers and retail property owners in Victoria have just had an example of this with the new property-based fire services levy which has seen cost increases of around 400%.”

Several of the nation’s largest retailing groups have been pushing for the GST threshold to be changed for years.

While the Coalition government has made no announcement on the matter, SmartCompany understands a change to the threshold is something that will be considered under Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman told SmartCompany this morning while he hasn’t spoken with the government since the election, “it’s fair to say it’s going to be something we continue to fight for”.

“I haven’t heard anything from the government one way or the other. But we have individual states with Liberal governments, in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia, and they are supportive.

“This is something we’ll continue to assist and push on with.”

The comments come just after ABS figures released last month estimated at least $6 billion was spent on offshore purchases during 2011-12.

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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