Australia – changes to the GST rules for online sales of goods

The Australian Federal Treasurer announced yesterday that it will be discussing GST measures with State Treasurers today with a view to announcing changes to the Australian GST rules for online sales of goods into Australia. You may be aware that currently goods sold into Australia under A$1,000 (approx. USD 730) are not subject to GST or duty.

At this stage, we do not have any details of the precise changes, but on the basis of statements made by the Treasurer, it is assumed that the measures are likely to involve a requirement for a non-resident seller to register and account for GST on the sales of all goods into Australia. Such a change may not impact on the current import rules, potentially meaning that goods imported into Australia below the current A$1,000 low value threshold could continue to remain free of customs duties.

What does it mean for you?

Given the Treasurer’s stated objective that online sales of goods and intangibles should be treated consistently for GST purposes, it will be interesting to see whether the proposed changes due to be released tomorrow align with the recently released GST law changes for sales of offshore digital content. If there is alignment between the two measures, it may well result in a number of online platforms and other intermediaries in the supply chain to become liable for GST on goods imported into Australia.

This will be a big change for overseas online retailers and potentially also online platforms and marketplaces involved in the sales of goods into the Australian market.

For further information you can contact Suzi Russell-Gilford, Peter Konidaris, Brady Dever of PwC Australia or me.