• Herbal medicine practitioner or a naturopath

    If you are a herbal medicine practitioner or a naturopath, goods you supply during a consultation are only GST-free if they are completely used or consumed during the GST-free consultation.

    If the goods are only partially used or consumed during the consultation at the premises, only the used portion is GST-free.

    Chinese herbal medicine you supply with GST-free acupuncture

    If you registered to provide acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, a herbal medicine preparation you supply is GST-free if all of the following apply:

    • you supply it at the same premises where you supply the GST-free service
    • it is individually customised or manipulated for treating that particular patient's illness or disability
    • it is generally accepted in the acupuncture profession as being necessary for the appropriate treatment of the patient.

    The patient does not have to consume the herbal medicine preparation at the acupuncturist's rooms for it to be GST-free.

    Chinese herbal medicine practitioner

    If you are a registered Chinese herbal medicine practitioner, a Chinese herbal medicine preparation you supply during a GST-free consultation is also GST-free if it is completely consumed during the consultation.

    If the medicine is only partially consumed during the consultation at the premises, only the consumed portion is GST-free.

    Recognised professional in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine

    You may be a recognised professional in more than one service listed in the GST Act and may be supplying a combination of services.

    For example, when a recognised professional in both acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbal medicine supplies a patient with a herbal preparation, the preparation is GST-free if you supply it at the premises where you supplied the GST-free treatment.

    Chinese herbs and GST

    Chinese herbs you supply as medicinal herbs are not considered to be GST-free food. For the purposes of the GST Act, the definition of food includes beverages (and ingredients for beverages) that are primarily consumed for the purposes of increasing bodily liquid levels, to quench thirst or to give pleasure. It does not cover beverages or ingredients for beverages that are primarily consumed for medicinal or therapeutic purposes.

    Chinese dried herbs that can be food or medicine

    In general, medicinal herbs are taxable imports because they are not GST-free food.

    However there are a small number of Chinese dried herbs that are generally used as food, or as an ingredient for food, as well as for medicinal or therapeutic purposes.

    Common examples of food herbs are lotus seeds, red dates, longan fruit, tangerine peel, sweet almond seeds and jasmine tea leaves. The supply of these foods or ingredients for food is GST-free, although they may have medicinal or therapeutic purposes. When you import them as food or ingredients for food, they are a non-taxable import.

    Chinese herbs are not GST-free where:

    • dried herbal ingredients you use in medicinal decoctions (solutions made by boiling herbs in water) are not considered to be ingredients for food or beverages
    • medicinal dried herbs that you consume in soup or other food are not considered to be ingredients for that soup or other food
    • herbs you provide as part of a herbal formula/prescription
    • herbal goods in tablet or capsule form are not food
    • where the overseas exporter specifically labels and markets dried herbs as medicinal herbs
    • where you are in Australia and specifically label and market dried herbs as being medicinal herbs.

    Chinese herbs are GST-free where:

    • the overseas exporter supplies herbs (that are accepted as food or ingredients for food or beverages as well as for medicinal purposes) and indicates that the herbs are food or ingredients for food
    • you are in Australia and you supply the herbs (that are accepted as food or ingredients for food or beverages as well as for medicinal purposes) and market them as food or ingredients for food.
      Last modified: 22 May 2014QC 16264