Retailers need to stop trying to tax us online

Tom Pullar-Strecker at Stuff reports:

Retailers are stepping up efforts to close a “loophole” that allows -free purchases of overseas goods costing less than $400.

They should give up their silly campaign to tax minor online purchases. It would cost the Government far more in administration than it would bring in, in revenue.

Retailers Association chief executive John Albertson said the import threshold was costing the Crown $300 million a year in lost revenue, far more than the $17m the Government had sought to raise through its ill-fated plan to tax employee car parking.

Well first of all I doubt that figure. They’re saying that $2 billion of sales are being made online from overseas retailers, which sounds way too high too me. But the compliance costs would be huge. Customs would have to intercept every single letter coming into NZ, open it, hold it, calculate GST, send an invoice for say $5 and then get it paid and then dispatch it on. A bureaucratic nightmare.

revenue spokesman David Cunliffe said a low threshold for charging GST on overseas purchases would stop the Government “subsidising foreign commerce” and was a “no-brainer”.

Oh wonderful. Make sure everyone knows this. Labour Party policy is to tax your online purchases more. Buy a book from Amazon, and Labour will hold it up at the border until you pay the Government an extra 15% of the price.

Will Labour also block itunes? We can’t have people downloading music and not paying GST on it. So to implement their policy they’ll have to block itunes in NZ, and only allow people to purchase from a NZ located online retailer.

Labour grandstanded on the carpark tax (yet never had a clear policy on it), but have now trumped that with their e-tax. I look forward to detailed Labour policy on what they would reduce the threshold to so we know how many of our online purchases they plan to stop at the border.

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