Australians Oppose Proposed New Tax On Overseas Online Shopping

April 14, 2017

One in two Australians connect with sellers via eBay’s marketplace. As such, as part of eBay’s opposition to the Treasury Laws Amendment (GST Low Value Goods) Bill 2017 and its unintended consequences, eBay commissioned JWS Research to conduct a public opinion poll of 1000 Australians’ views regarding the Bill from 30 March-5 April 2017. The Bill would apply the 10% Australian Goods and Services Tax (GST) to all overseas online shopping imported into Australia. It’s anti-consumer and consumer groups in Australia, such as Choice, have outlined the dire consequences the Bill could have for Australian consumers in submissions to the Senate Inquiry on this matter. Click here to read Choice’s submission.

Here is a quick snapshot of the JWS polling results:

The JWS Poll found that Australians are in agreement that: 

  • eBay does not own, hold, sell or supply goods itself;
  • eBay’s current business model does not support collection of GST; and
  • There is currently no practical way to enforce overseas businesses to abide by Australia’s GST laws.

Australians understand the problems created by asking an online marketplace like eBay to collect GST given they do not hold the goods. 59% agree that a reason to not support the Bill is because “it’s unreasonable because eBay does not own, hold, sell or supply goods, rather it provides a marketplace for these transactions to occur” (only 10% disagree with this statement). 57% agree that “eBay’s current business model does not support collection of GST. Designing a new eBay interface for Australia would be costly, and would make eBay uncompetitive for online buyers and sellers” and only 9% disagree with this reason.Additionally, Australians were asked to indicate their level of agreement or disagreement with some of the various reasons why eBay does not support the proposed Bill:

  • On enforcement, 53% of Australians agree that there’s currently no practical way of forcing overseas businesses to abide by Australia’s GST laws and only 9% disagree with this.
  • In terms of choice of products being available online, 50% of Australians agree there will be less choice for consumers if the Bill is passed and the threshold is removed, and only 10% disagree with this.
  • Overall, on the issue of whether Australia should move to a zero threshold (which is at odds for example with the United States’ de minimis move in 2016 from US$200 to US$800), 43% of Australians do not support removing the threshold, and only 27% support it.
  • Australians understand the reality that a move to a zero threshold would increase prices, with 56% not willing to pay 10% on overseas online purchases valued below $1,000 (only 21% are willing).
  • In relation to going back to the drawing board on the issue of collection, 52% of Australians support the Government formally reviewing any proposed collection method that requires online marketplaces such as eBay to collect GST from buyers (only 12% oppose) and coupled with this 51% support the Government revisiting the threshold level (only 15% oppose).

eBay will continue to represent our consumers and businesses on this Bill and continue to advocate for it to be withdrawn.