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  • GST on low value imported goods - if you are a transporter or customs broker

    GST on low value imported goods will be collected by merchants, online marketplaces or re-deliverers. There are rules for working out which of these businesses is treated as the supplier of the goods. If a business is treated as the supplier of goods, and meets the A$75,000 GST turnover threshold, then it will need to register and collect GST on the supply. It will also have to report GST information into the integrated cargo system (ICS). This is to ensure GST won't be collected again at the border. The supplier will need your practical assistance to report this information.

    Generally, transporters and customs brokers will not be required to collect GST (unless you are also a supplier for GST purposes).

    What are low value goods?

    Low value goods are physical goods (excluding tobacco, tobacco products, or alcoholic beverages) with a customs value of A$1,000 or less. This value excludes transport and insurance costs from the place of export to Australia.

    The current A$1,000 threshold for GST, duty and reporting at the border will remain.

    How are customs brokers and transporters affected?

    Suppliers are legally required to ensure that relevant tax information is included on import documents for the goods. They will ask their transporters or customs brokers in the country of export to collect this information and make sure it is provided to transporters or customs brokers in Australia.

    Summary of the tax information to be included on import documents

    Information the supplier must provide

    Matching fields in the integrated cargo system (ICS)

    Their supplier registration number, which is either:

    • a 12-digit ARN
      (ATO reference number)
    • an 11-digit ABN
      (Australian business number).

    To be reported in the Vendor ID field.

    The ABN of the purchaser where this is provided to the supplier.

    To be reported in the Importer ID field.

    Whether GST has been charged on the sale of each of the goods.

    There is a field on both the self-assessed clearance declaration (with tariff lines) and the import declaration to include a GST exemption code of PAID, where relevant.

    Note: This code cannot be used against an item with a customs value of more than $A1,000 at the time of sale.

    If a supplier does not provide this tax information, you can still report the goods into the Integrated Cargo System (ICS) for customs clearance. Some smaller businesses are not required to be registered, so not every importation will contain this information.

    However, when suppliers provide this information, you must report it. Penalties may apply to your suppliers if they fail to take reasonable steps to ensure this information is included.

    Preventing double taxation

    Including the right information on the import documents will prevent double taxation at the border for the purchaser. The Department of Home Affairs website contains details on how to complete the customs forms and prevent double taxation.

    However, if the low value goods have been taxed at the point of sale, and at the border, the purchasers of the goods will need to seek a GST refund from the supplier. This information is explained on the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website.

    What suppliers need to do

    Suppliers must:

    • issue notices to consumers about GST on the sale
    • provide certain GST information for inclusion in import documents (one commercial document can be used to fulfil both requirements).

    What you need to do

    You should talk to your clients and other parties involved in the goods supply chain about how you will work with them to collect and provide the required GST information.

    More information

    For more detailed information, you can:

      Last modified: 14 May 2018QC 55426