Retail boss calls for “fair play” on GST, as rumours of reform are rife.
“All we are looking for is for all retailers to play fairly,” Aus Retail Association Executive Director, Russell Zimmerman, told Channel News.
A GST review is believed to recommend the Federal government lower the GST threshold on goods bought from foreign retailers online from its current $1000 to as low as $30.
If so, online prices of international retailers could go up as much as 10% but OZ retailers argue the current rules make local pricing appear uncompetitive.
Read: GST: Has Gerry Got His Wicked Way?
“There is huge support even from pure online players in Australia also” to fix the “loophole” in the GST rules, says the ARA boss.
“The government are going to need more income so there’s an opportunity to change the rules,” however, its reform is likely to be “gradual.”
In the current GST environment “some of our own retailers are looking to move their online operations offshore,” says Zimmerman, which Myer has already done, Harvey Norman has also been vocal about it, so “we need to work against that.”
But there are several big names, citing a move “a couple of other large fashion chain”; one whose online store is located currently in Western Sydney, he told CN in an interview.
Zimmerman aslo said the ARA is prepared to work with the government to figure out an effective way to collect the GST on parcels coming in from abroad.
“We want to work with the government to ensure it pays them and ensure it doesn’t end up costing the states.”
However, he admits there is “little sense” in lowering the threshold if it doesn’t net the government any income, as under the present threshold, it would cost the authorities more to administrate the tax than they would make from it.
And does Zimmerman fear a backlash from consumers if a GST change is implemented as it could mean prices rising as much as 10% for goods purchased from international players.
“The Australian retail industry employs over 1.2m people and the public want to see jobs in retail,” he insists.
“Consumers cant have their cake and eat it .”
“Its a loophole in the industry – online was not as big as it was when the GST rules were created.”