Literary industry wants zero GST threshold on offshore book purchases

July 27, 2015

Australia’s book industry: authors, publishers, booksellers and rights managers are calling on the Federal and State Governments to reduce the Low Value Threshold on offshore purchases to zero.

The Australian Society of Authors, the Australian Publishers Association, the Australian Booksellers Association, the Copyright Agency and the Australian Council of Small Business back suggested changes to level the playing field in terms of GST payments on goods purchased offshore, such as books.

Chair of the Copyright Agency, Kim Williams, says, “We are very heartened by the current discussions to introduce GST to offshore purchases of books, cameras, clothing, sporting goods etc. As Joe Hockey said, ‘How do I say to a bookseller in Lane Cove, that they have obligations to pay tax, but Amazon selling the same book from overseas doesn’t. It’s unsustainable.’

“However, if the Low Value Threshold can be reduced from $1000 to $20, then the Government should go further and drop the threshold to zero,” Mr Williams says.

The ABA’s Chief Executive Joel Becker says, “This is about ending an era of protectionism for offshore businesses – large and small. While hundreds of thousands of us collect and pay our fair share of GST, governments continue to protect offshore businesses who do not pay tax, do not employ Australians, and therefore do not contribute to Australia’s hospitals, schools, roads and other essential services.

“As the Government now points out, new technologies have reduced the cost of collection of this revenue, and whether it is an impost at point of purchase on credit cards, or asking the ATO to target the top 50-100 internet retail providers, there are cost-effective, if not cost neutral, ways of collecting the revenue.”

The ASA’s Chair David Day says, “Australian authors have been hit hard by untaxed imports of their own books from overseas, for which they receive minimal royalties. They want to see fairness restored to the Australian book market.”

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