Issued by the Australian Booksellers Association (ABA) and Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA)
Thursday, discount 13 November 2014
AUSTRALIAN BOOK INDUSTRY & SMALL BUSINESSES DEMAND TAX CRACKDOWN FOR OFFSHORE BOOKSELLERS
BOOK DEPOSITORY AVOIDS PAYING GST ON AUSTRALIAN PURCHASES
The Australian retail book industry and small businesses have great concerns over reports that Book Depository will be supplying customers from Australian publishers and distributors and avoiding paying GST. According to a report from Bookseller & Publishing, generic the online book industry publication, Book Depository has been speaking to Australian publishers and book distributors to set up a direct supply of locally published books.
Tony Nash, CEO of Australian online retailer Booktopia has speculated that ‘their new offering will have Australian publishers and distributors sending their books to an Australia Post location and then Australia Post will ship the books to the Australian Book Depository customers’ addresses’.
A major question is how GST will be collected. Book Depository, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amazon, operates off-shore and does not collect GST. It has been suggested that they will claim a tax credit for purchases from Australian Publishers for the GST they should have paid. This represents a double whammy for the Australian taxpayer. This is why these companies love operating in Australia, from outside Australia.
Joel Becker, Australian Booksellers Association (ABA) chief executive said, ‘We accept that Amazon and Book Depository have a right to set up shop in Australia. What we want to ensure is that they pay their fair share of tax at the same rate as Australian bookshops, online and physical, large and small, chain and independent.”
“That means collecting GST on any purchase supplied within Australia. We also expect them to do the right thing, as offshore suppliers like major overseas distributor Baker and Taylor does, pay GST on any purchase by an Australian consumer, wherever they are located. To do otherwise is tax avoidance, pure and simple. We also hope the government and the taxation office will ensure that that Amazon and Book Depository do not pay their profits into off-shore tax havens to avoid paying tax in Australia, as has been their practice globally.”
Peter Strong, CEO of the Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA) and a Management Committee member of the ABA added, “We currently have a budget crisis and this is linked to tax collection. Do we as a society demand that our local businesses, big and small, and our tax payers carry the burden of paying and collecting taxes while large offshore multinationals don’t have the tax bill or the red tape costs? This fact added to the behaviour of hiding profits in corrupt countries places our welfare system and our health systems at risk. These large businesses are snubbing their noses at the ATO, at our politicians and at all of us.”
The policy of COSBOA is that all sales made from within Australia must attract GST, whether that is on line or from a traditional bricks and mortar business. This is essential for maintenance of fairness and transparency and a healthy economy. Either GST is collected on all sales or on no sales.
Peter Strong also said, “This GST can be collected at no extra cost to the government by simply asking the ATO to collect the tax from all purchases made from Australia.”
Jon Page, a past President of the ABA and Managing Director of Pages & Pages Booksellers and on-line seller Boomerang said, “I would welcome Amazon or The Book Depository setting up a warehouse in Australia because it would a fair fight. This is not a fair fight. This is an example of pure greed, cowardice and business without responsibility. In light of not only their blatant tax evasion but also the terrible conditions Amazon workers have around the world and the conditions Amazon already dictate to publishers over terms of trade I find it truly unfathomable that any publisher would wish to get into bed with them.”