July 11, 2017 Print

The Australian government is aiming to impose an online shopping tax, the Goods and Service Tax (GST), on low-value overseas goods, but an international coalition opposing these measures has formed to fight against lowering the GST.

"International coalition partners play a vital (and I would argue underutilised) role in the legislative process," said Tim Andrews, executive director of ATA. "Not only can they affect legislation by alerting lawmakers to the international consequences of bills and bring further pressure upon them, but they also allow organizations to better share expiriences and learn from each other to create more effective campaigns."

Many Atlas Network partners have signed on to a letter addressed to the Australian government denouncing the tax, including the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance (ATA), The Freedom Association, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Americans for Tax Reform, CEDICE Libertad in Venezuela, Australia & New Zealand Students for Liberty, the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, The TaxPayers’ Alliance in the U.K., and the Ukrainian Economic Freedoms Foundation.

“We the undersigned, representing millions of taxpayers across the world, urge the Australian Government to reject the lowering of the Goods and Service Tax (GST) free threshold on imported goods and imposition of GST collection on Online Marketplace Service providers as per the Treasury Laws Amendment (GST Low Value Goods) Bill 2017,” states the letter. “The legislation will seriously damage Australia’s international standing and the Australian economy. This legislation is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to tax the Internet.”

Popular sites such as Amazon, which is about to open its first warehouse in Australia, and eBay would be affected by the GST because they would have to pass on the cost of it to consumers. Australians are hyper-aware of this proposal because it directly impacts their online spending habits.

"While ultimately we were not successful in blocking the online sales tax outright, we did succeed in delaying it one year with its implementation conditional on a full independent investigation which we hope will result in the legislation not being enacted," Andrews said. "If anything, this campaign and the demonstrated impact in the media and with legislators that the international coalition had proved to me just how valuable it was and we shall certainly continue this in the future."

The ATA has been an active participant in the global campaign to stop online sales tax, earning coverage by the most prominent newspaper in Australia. Andrews told The Australian that a key ally in their fight has been Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.