At least one online Ebay-based retailer, Oz Digital Online, appears to be selling cameras and other photographic gear shipped from Sydney without collecting GST – or at least without passing it on to the ATO!
Under the heading ‘GST Fraud?’ a reader emailed PhotoCounter with a response to a customer query from Oz Digital Online, which seemed to indicate there was no GST component in the Oz Digital Online prices. It stated : Thanks for the email, this item is in stock in Sydney, will be posted from our Sydney warehouse, it will be delivered within 2-5 working days via standard Post or 1-2 working days via Express aust wide upon receipt of the payment. Invoice will be for 12-month warranty purpose, can not get tax back at the airport further. (Our emphasis)
Customer Support Team
Oz Digital Online
Welcome to our store:
Photo Counter then approached the Oz Digital Online Customer Support Team with the following enquiry regarding a DSLR purchase: ‘Hi. I have an ABN #, will be using the camera in my business, and was wondering if you issue invoices which include a GST component so I can claim the GST back?’
The response was prompt (and Oz Digital Online has pretty good Ebay customer feedback, too!): Thanks for the email, invoice will be provided for 12 month warranty purpose, can not get tax back. (Our emphasis).
Not only does Oz Digital Online ship from premises in Sydney, but it accepts payments into an Australian bank account. It has an account with HSBC Forest Rd, Hurstville branch (BSB 342015) under the name M Zhang.
However there doesn’t seem to be an ABN associated with Oz Digital Online, and nor could the business name be found in ASIC records.
Pricing is a mixed bag compared to GST-charging, ABN-holding Australian discount retailers, but with free delivery and shipping (in days rather than weeks, which is for instance what Kogan.com is offering shipping from Hong Kong) Oz Digital Online is generally sufficiently cheaper for legitimate retailers to be bleeding sales to the rogue competitor.
So for instance a Canon 700D from Oz Digital is $549 with free shipping while the same body from Digital Camera Warehouse is $667 with shipping.
The differential for the more current Canon 750D is less. Shipped, the Oz Digital version is $799 while the DCW version is $854.
The Nikon D610 is just $1569 from Oz Digital and $1854 from DCW (with GST of $168.55).
The Sony A7R II is $3879 from Oz Digital and $4017 from DCW (this would actually be slightly cheaper than Oz Digital Online if the buyer could claim back the GST.)
The Panasonic Lumix LX100 is $749 from Oz Digital, $818 from DCW.
The ATO position:
PhotoCounter sought input from the Australian Taxation Office regarding eBay retailers selling from Australia and GST obligations. This is what we asked the ATO…
If there were companies:
– selling to Australian consumers on eBay, offering products like cameras in Australian dollars and shipping out of an office in an Australian capital city;
– offering an Australian warranty and acknowledging the Australian Consumer Laws;
– BUT NOT CHARGING GST OR ISSUING A TAX INVOICE.
1. Is it legally possible for a company to have a local office, a local bank account and ship from Australia, and yet not have to charge GST?
2. If this is not a legal way to do business in Australia, are there any measures a GST-compliant competitor can take to eliminate what appears to be irregular competition?
This is their response, via a spokesperson from the ATO Media Unit: The relevant parts of the scenario described are that the camera (a good) is shipped out of an office in Australia. All goods located in Australia when supplied by persons registered or, required to be registered, are taxable at 10%. A person is required to be registered when their turnover exceeds $75 000. Anyone who becomes aware of a sale on which GST appears not to be declared can refer the matter to the ATO Tax Evasion Referral Centre.