Make Amazon charge GST

Now that the Productivity Commission’s proposal to abolish parallel import restrictions has been defeated, how about getting the Government to do something that would support Australian booksellers: force overseas online etailers like Amazon to charge the good and services tax (GST) on books (and other goods?) sold to Australia?

Currently Australian retailers have to charge 10% GST but Amazon and other overseas online booksellers do not. The result is books sold in Australia look more expensive than they actually are, which is driving more consumers to buy books online overseas, encouraging imports rather than buying local. This directly affects local booksellers and, in turn, the local publishers and authors who rely on them.

Amazon charges sales tax in other jurisdictions, so there’s no technical reason why it can’t happen. It would be a nice little earner for the Government too, and would level the playing field for local booksellers who, frankly, could do with the help.

There’s a Facebook group if the idea appeals. It seems just to me.


4 thoughts on “Make Amazon charge GST

  1. I buy *some* books from O/S retailers such as Amazon because even after shipping the title half way around the world the book is still cheaper than buying it locally. No amount of GST fiddling will fix that.

    It’s also worth investigating whether the imposition of an import tax on Amazon would breach the US/AU Free Trade Agreement.

  2. Peter Donoughue says:

    Hi Andrew

    Having ditched any real reform of the parallel importation regime, and having embraced Amazon as some sort of competitive force for good on behalf of the Australian consumer, you can hardly expect the government to embrace an idea that would weaken the pressure Amazon applies to publishers to improve pricing and availability.

    The best way for booksellers to compete with Amazon is by publishers lowering their RRPs and improving availability.

    • I’m guess I’m wondering how I reduce my prices in such circumstances, particularly as everyone seems to want higher discounts, Peter. In children’s books, prices haven’t kept up with CPI increases in recent years as it is (eg we’re still at 2005 prices for hardback picture books).

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