No GST change on foreign goods just yet
The federal government has acknowledged the $1000 threshold at which GST is collected on goods purchased from abroad is high by international standards, but has rejected calls for an immediate reduction.
Instead, and in line with the taskforce that analysed the so-called "low value parcel processing", Labor will begin preparing business cases and possible implementation plans for reform, with a final response to be released in 2013.
"A decision cannot be made regarding the possible lowering of the threshold until these business cases and possible implementation plans for reforms to low value parcel processing have been prepared," Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury said in a statement today.
He said the costs associated with any possible changes had to be determined.
"As the taskforce's report made clear, there are no simple or quick solutions," he said.
He said around 58 million parcels entered Australia under the low value import threshold each year.
As such, lowering the threshold before putting in place significant reforms to processing capabilities would cause major disruptions to the international mail service and result in major inconvenience to the businesses and consumers that rely upon it.
"Without greater efficiencies in the system, the cost to taxpayers of collecting the GST on low value parcels would also outstrip the revenue that is collected," he said.
He said online retail sales, both domestic and overseas, still only accounted for around six per cent of overall retail sales.
"While there has been strong growth in online retail sales, published data indicates that the majority of sales are made with domestic retailers, with online sales by international retailers accounting for less than 1.5 per cent of total Australian retail sales revenue," he said.
"While this is not the biggest challenge confronting the retail sector, the government does recognise that on the basis of fairness and tax neutrality, Australian retailers should not be disadvantaged by taxation arrangements which favour overseas retailers."