Retailers have launched another campaign to have GST charged on internet purchases from overseas, warning that Australian governments will forgo revenue of more than $2.4 billion over the next three years.
That's because internet sales have soared but the commonwealth only charges GST on purchases over $1000, refusing to reduce the threshold on grounds the costs will exceed the actual income.
National Retail Association (NRA) executive director Gary Black said it was time to level the playing field.
He said a study conducted for the NRA by accountants Ernst & Young found the failure to amend the low value threshold would deny states and territories up to $2.45 billion in potential GST distributions between 2012-13 and 2014-15.
"The loophole, which is denying the states and territories access to much needed additional GST revenues, is a double blow to their respective economies because the low value threshold also poses the greatest threat to traditional retail jobs and domestic online retail growth," he said in a statement.
Mr Black said other nations including the UK, European Union, Canada, Japan and the US had undertaken such reforms to tax internet purchases.
"If such reform can be achieved in those countries it can be achieved in Australia," he said.
"Australia's $1000 low value threshold on foreign online purchases is highly inequitable when you consider that in countries such as the UK the threshold is as low as 15 pounds ($A23.25)."
Mr Black said there were a variety of options available to ensure the tax was collected conveniently and at low cost.
"Amongst that is the opportunity for the Australian government to legislate to require foreign retailers like Amazon to charge and remit GST just like Australian retailers do when they sell online," he told ABC Television.
Mr Black acknowledged the move wouldn't be popular.
"The alternatives are far worse. If we don't act, on our modelling, the Australian retail sector will lose 33,000 jobs. Thirty-three thousand Australian jobs will be shipped offshore between now and 2015," he said.AAP
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