The world’s largest online photo retailers, B&H and Adorama, along with major HK retailer Digital Rev, either haven’t received the ATO’s memo on registering for and charging GST, or are deliberately flaunting the law by continuing to sell to Australians GST-free.
B&H does offer the option of paying GST and other shipping and customs charges at the shopping cart checkout, but the on-costs – well over 20 percent on the purchase price – are so prohibitive that its really no option at all.
The other two retailers appear totally unaware of the need to collect GST if they are selling and shipping to Australians.
PhotoCounter approached the ATO on behalf of our readers with several specific questions, only to receive a very non-specific, cut-and-paste reply. We asked:
– The ATO stated it has been communicating with some 3000 retailers around the world and I would have assumed B&H, Adorama and Digtial Rev would have been in that group – are these three businesses aware of the Australian GST changes and simply ignoring them?
– Is the ATO pleased with the progress of implementation of the changes to GST so far?
– What level of feedback/complaints has there been so far from Australian retailers about non-compliance in other product segments?
– How many overseas retailers have in fact registered for Australian GST collection?
– Do you encourage retailers who see offshore competitors ignoring the new GST arrangements to assist the ATO by informing the ATO of breaches?
To which the ATO (kind of) responded:
The ATO cannot comment on the tax affairs of any individual or entity due to our obligations of confidentiality under the law. We suggest any questions be posed to the companies themselves.
All major platforms that are required to register have already registered and a number of smaller businesses are continuing to register. There are a large number of small merchants who only sell through platforms and therefore do not need to individually register. Similarly, merchants who sell only to GST-registered businesses do not need to register either.
The ATO has been working closely with businesses to engage and support them. We have also made our compliance views clear and communicated them widely. We are following up with businesses that haven’t registered that we believe should have registered.
Any businesses that were required to register by 1 July 2018 and have not are required to account for GST on their applicable sales from 1 July. Those that haven’t registered should contact us now and we can register them from 1 July 2018.
Any businesses that choose not to comply expose themselves to a range of compliance actions including the following:
- compulsory registration for GST;
- administrative penalties of up to 75 percent of the unpaid GST;
- the garnisheeing of payments from Australia to the business;
- debt recovery action in foreign courts;
- ATO engagement with the taxation authority in the business’ home country.
Retailers are welcome to report a concern to us here. The ATO cannot publicise action taken in individual cases due to privacy laws and regulations. However, businesses that do the right thing can be assured that we will, where appropriate, pursue businesses that don’t do the right thing.
For more information about our compliance view visit our website here.