Under laws coming into effect as of next year, if it wants to, the Federal Government can block access to overseas retailer's websites if they aren't collecting GST — even for purchases under $1000.
Choice recently revealed the loophole, a part of regulations to be implemented as of July 2017. Overseas businesses will have to collect GST on everything if they have an Australian annual turnover of $75,000 or more.
Local retailers blaming losing sales to overseas sites prompted the change, which will see an extra $300 million in GST collected.
But how are the new rules going to be enforced anyway?
A Treasury Official told Choice that first, the Government will ask the businesses to comply. Failing that, the Government will fall back on treaty arrangements and international law to force them to comply. And if that doesn't work, as a "last resort", Government powers will be used to block the retailer's websites.
The Telecommunications Act gives the government the power to make telecommunications companies help enforce laws related to "[protecting] the public revenue".
So if you are buying items from overseas websites because you can't get those products locally, and those websites don't comply with our GST rules, you may find your path obscured by the heavy arm of the Government.