As tech enthusiasts some of our most frequented websites (aside from Ausdroid of course) are eBar, Aliexpress and Amazon — always in search of a bargain on tech products. Now if the Department of Home Affairs has its way, that $1 USB-C connector will cost you $6.
At the moment purchases under $1000 for personal use are not taxed, but with close to 40 million sub-$1000 parcels arriving in the country this past financial year the costs of scanning said parcels is increasing. The trend year on year is, as you would expect, rising with this year being a 22 percent increase from last year.
Now, in an attempt to recover some of the costs of bio-scanning/screening this large volume of parcels, the Department of Home Affairs wants to add a levy of around $5 — “in the dollars not the cents” — to all of these low value parcels arriving in the country. A department discussion paper explains it as thus:
As the volume of imported low value consignments continues to grow, so too do the costs of biosecurity, cargo and trade border activities for those consignments. This has created increasing inequity and cross-subsidisation, where importers of high value consignments are paying for the border activities attributable to other users
The department paper also says that it expects the freight and express courier companies to wear most of the tax but unfortunately, as you would expect, these companies have already said that the cost would be passed onto the customers. How this would work for a parcel coming through Australia Post and not a courier is unknown? Would Australia Post have to leave their calling card for you to go and pay the $5 before they would release the parcel?
Freight and Trade Alliance director Paul Zalai has also warned that he expected there to be a backlash from the countries where the packages are originating from. This backlash would be expected to be in the form of taxes on any parcels coming into their country from Australia, not great for our small-medium exporters.
Expect local exporters and the big companies such as eBay and Amazon to lobby the government hard to not implement this recommendation.
At the moment this is just a discussion paper from one of many government departments, but it is a very real possibility that all those eBay items with free shipping will no longer be “free” shipping.
Would this affect you? Do you think it is fair of the government to do it?