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  • Information for consumers

    Goods with a customs value of A$1,000 or less (referred to as low value goods) that you purchase from overseas may now include goods and services tax (GST).

    GST will apply at the point of sale in the same way it does when you buy goods from a business in Australia.

    When you purchase low value goods online you may notice GST:

    • included in the advertised price
    • added at the checkout
    • included on your receipt or order confirmation.

    When you purchase goods sourced from overseas, shipping and/or insurance costs form part of the price of the delivered goods on which GST is calculated.

    Not all purchases will include GST. Similar to sales from merchants within Australia, some overseas suppliers may not be required to register for GST because they don't reach the A$75,000 GST registration threshold.

    Some goods may also be GST-free items, such as foods items. If you are charged GST on an item you believe is GST-free, contact your supplier to request a refund of the GST charged.

    The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) administers the Australian consumer law. For information on consumer protection and online shopping, visit Link.

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    Don't pay GST twice

    When goods with a customs value of more than A$1,000 are imported into Australia GST is payable at the border to the Department of Home Affairs.

    If you purchase a number of low value imported goods from a supplier that have a total a customs value of more than A$1,000 and the goods are sent to you in one consignment (that is, parcel), the supplier can choose whether to:

    • apply GST to each low value imported good at the point of sale, or
    • allow the GST to be applied to the consignment on the importation of the goods at the Australian border.

    Regardless of which GST taxing point the supplier chooses you will still need to pay any relevant import charges (that is, customs duty and import processing fees) on the importation of the goods at the border.

    If the supplier chooses to apply GST at the point of sale they are required to include sufficient information on the import documentation to prevent GST being applied again at the border.

    The supplier is required to include:

    • their GST registration number, either an ABN (Australian business number) or ARN (ATO reference number)
    • the GST 'Paid' exception code, indicating that GST has been charged on each low value good in the consignment, and
    • the ABN of the purchaser (if the supplier has it).

    If the supplier does not provide sufficient information and the import into Australia has a customs value above $1,000, you will receive notification that you need to pay GST on the importation. You will be required to pay the GST applied at the border before your goods will be released to you.

    The notification will generally come from the courier company transporting your goods, and they may choose to pay the GST on import on your behalf prior to notifying you.

    If you have been charged GST on import and at point of sale you will need to seek a refund of the GST paid at the point of sale from the supplier. Refunds of GST paid at the border on consignments of multiple low value goods with a customs value of more the A$1,000 will not be available from the Department of Home Affairs.

    Before refunding the GST paid at the point of sale, the supplier will require proof of payment of the GST you paid to the Department of Home Affairs.

    See also:

    Advertised prices and GST

    If GST is likely to apply to a good, the online store should display a GST-inclusive price. This is a requirement of Australian consumer law, which is administered by the Australian Competition and Consumer CommissionExternal Link.

    There will be instances where suppliers may not be able to include GST in the listed price of a product displayed in the online store until they can confirm an Australian delivery address, and that the purchase is being made to a consumer.

    If the supplier is unsure if GST will apply, they should advise that additional taxes may apply to the sale. As soon as they know that GST applies, they should confirm the GST-inclusive price (that is, by including the GST amount at the checkout).

    Example 1 – GST applied to the sale of a low value good

    Lucia lives in Australia and buys a clock online on 22 July 2018 from Stylish Times Co (the supplier). The clock is advertised at A$600 on their website including postage and handling, and the supplier states that additional taxes may apply. At the checkout Lucia notices that A$60 has been added to her receipt – bringing the total price to A$660. The clock is a low value imported good (as it has a customs value of A$1,000 or less) and the supplier has added GST to the price as soon as they have confirmed (via their checkout process) that the item is being delivered to Australia.

    End of example

    Returning goods and GST refunds

    The GST rules that apply to goods returned in our domestic market also apply for returned low value imported goods. This means if you return goods and get a refund, you should also get a refund of the GST.

    When you use an electronic distribution platform (EDP)

    An EDP is a service (such as online marketplace) through which you can buy goods from various merchants.

    GST on low value imported goods sold through an online marketplace is generally charged by the EDP operator, as they are deemed to be the supplier.

    GST will be payable on the sale where the online marketplace is required to be registered (that is, they meet or exceed the A$75,000 GST registration threshold). This is the case even where the individual merchant may not meet or exceed the GST-registration threshold (that is, they are an individual not operating a business).

    Where the EDP operator offers a 'discount', GST is still calculated on the individual merchant's listed price. The 'discount' offered by the EDP operator is viewed as a part payment made by the EDP operator towards the cost of the good to you, as illustrated in Example 2.

    Example 2 – GST and discount offered by an EDP operator

    Gavin lives in Australia and purchases a lens cover from a merchant in the US via an EDP. The individual merchant lists the lens cover for sale on the EDP at a price of A$66.00 (including shipping to Gavin's Australian address).

    The EDP operator is offering a 5% discount on all purchases made on the EDP in the week Gavin makes his purchase.

    Merchant's price A$60.00 (GST exclusive)

    GST A$6.00 (10% of merchant's price)

    Less EDP discount A$3.00 (part payment made by the EDP operator)

    Gavin pays A$63.00

    The individual merchant's price of A$60.00 (GST exclusive) is not reduced by the discount offered by the EDP operator. The EDP operator is required to charge GST based on the merchant's price.

    The discount offered by the EDP operator is viewed as a part payment towards the cost of Gavin's purchase and does not reduce the GST payable.

    End of example

    GST and second-hand goods

    Second-hand goods purchased from overseas may be subject to GST if they are low value imported goods.

    When second-hand goods are sold by GST registered suppliers GST will generally apply, just like when second-hand goods are purchased from GST registered businesses in Australia. Sales of low value imported goods, either new or second-hand, can be made by:

    • a merchant who sells goods
    • an EDP (such as an online marketplace)
    • a re-deliverer.

    Sales of low value imported second-hand goods by a non-resident individual via an online marketplace are deemed to have been made by the EDP operator. Therefore, the price of the second-hand good will include GST as the EDP operator is registered.

    When you use re-delivery services

    You are using a re-deliverer if you:

    • purchase goods and have them sent to a mailbox in another country to be re-shipped to you in Australia
    • use the services of an overseas business that buys goods on your behalf and then helps you bring those goods to Australia.

    A GST registered re-deliverer will charge GST on the low value imported goods and the cost of their services in delivering the goods to you.

    The overseas business that makes the original sale to you should not charge GST, as they are not sending the goods to Australia.

    GST and gifts

    You may be charged GST when you buy a gift valued at A$1,000 or less that is sourced from overseas and the gift is delivered to an address in Australia, if:

    • the supplier assists in bringing the goods to Australia, and
    • the supplier is registered or required to register for GST.

    GST will apply to the gift in this circumstance whether you (that is, the purchaser) are located in Australia or overseas at the time the gift is purchased.

    Example 3 – GST and gifts sourced from overseas

    Kate lives in England and purchases a teddy bear for her grandson who lives in Adelaide, Australia. Kate purchases the teddy bear for A$70.00 from Fluffy Bears, an online store located in England, and arranges for Fluffy Bears to deliver the teddy bear direct to her grandson in Australia. Fluffy Bears charges A$20.00 for delivery.

    Fluffy Bears is registered for Australian GST. As the teddy bear is delivered by the supplier to an address in Australia, Kate will pay GST on the price of the delivered gift she purchased for her grandson.

    Kate will pay A$99.00 for the teddy bear for her grandson in Adelaide.

    Advertised price of teddy bear A$70.00

    Plus delivery A$20.00

    Plus GST A$9.00

    Kate's total payable A$99.00

    This GST outcome would be the same if Kate lived in Coffs Harbour, Australia.

    End of example

    Goods over A$1,000, tobacco, and alcohol

    The GST treatment for sales of goods with a customs value over A$1,000, or that are tobacco products or alcoholic beverages has not changed. These imports have GST, customs duties and other taxes and charges applied at the Australian border.

    Your supplier shouldn't charge GST at the point of sale for goods you import if you buy:

    • an item over A$1,000
    • tobacco products or alcoholic beverages.

    If you are charged GST on these items, you can seek a refund of the GST from the supplier.

    You will be charged GST at the Australian border for these items. You cannot claim a GST exemption when importing goods that are not low value imported goods.

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    Last modified: 03 Dec 2018QC 52557