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Choice A Joke Claims US Web Site Operator

Choice who have a reputation for publicity stunts is now trying to tell the likes of Amazon how they should charge customers.

Desperate for any form of publicity the consumer group is also trying to tell the Federal Government how they should run their tax collection systems, they have even come up with a stunt as to how the Federal Government could use the Telecommunications Act to block public access to overseas Web sites that do not comply with Australian tax laws regarding the collection of GST.

The concept is laughable said one overseas web site operator. “they are a joke”. “If the Australian Federal Government does want us to collect a GST tax and it is going to cost us money we will simply stop shipping to Australia. You are not actually a big contributor to revenue because of the size of the Country” they added.

The publicity stunt was dreamed up by Choice, as the Government seeks to force overseas online retailers to collect GST on all purchases – big or small – by Australian customers. That arrangement is due to come into effect from July next year, following heavy lobbying by Australian retail groups.

Currently only goods purchased online from overseas retailers that cost more than $1000 are required to collect GST. It’s generally believed that the cost of collecting the tax on smaller amounts would outweigh the government income.

The Choice report says the Turnbull Government has not released any modelling on the likely impacts of the new system, including its effect on consumers.

It notes that a Treasury official, who requested anonymity, has claimed that the government plans to use the Telecommunications Act to block access to overseas Web sites that do not comply on GST – though so far neither Treasury nor the ATO have confirmed the claim.

Australian consumers buy a range of specialty products from overseas-based online stores, including niche cosmetics brands like Charlotte Tilbury or Glossier, and non-standard sized clothing brands like Long Tall Sally and Pink Clove – none of which are available in Australian stores – according to Choice spokesperson Tom Godfrey.

“If the Federal Government is going to start blocking these Web sites, it will disadvantage local consumers while providing absolutely no economic benefit to Australia,” Godfrey said.

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