Changes in GST announced tonight, may well only impact offshore digital service companies, but it does signal the start of a long journey that will see GST applied to as many aspects as possible across the broader economy.

"The government has demonstrated what will emerge as a trend in the evolution of the GST," says Mr Tony Windle, National Head of Indirect Tax for Grant Thornton.

Welcoming the start of what will be a raft of changes to Australia's GST, Mr Windle notes that an increase in either the base, or the rate, (or both) will provide an effective alternative to a range of inefficient state based taxes that currently stifle activity.

"We can expect tonight's announcement will only be the start of broadening the GST base. This will impact all aspects of the Australian business community, including mid-sized business. An extension of the base of GST will ensure that there are no competitive disadvantages to operating out of Australia as opposed to an offshore service provider," said Mr Windle.

A relatively minor tax take of only $350M is not the real effect of these changes. Whilst this has been badged as a "Netflix" tax, affecting offshore digital content providers, the effects of these changes will affect all international service providers who currently receive a perceived benefit to domestic providers.

The changes will affect suppliers of services to individuals and unregistered consumers of services, and will not affect those offshore providers who supply to business.

Notably, the change to Australia's concessional $1,000 Low Value Threshold has been held off until the Tax White Paper process evolves.

Mr Windle also notes that the ATO has been handed an additional $265M over the next three years to add to the compliance and audit programme to enforce the existing and changing GST laws.
 
For more information please contact:
 
Helina Lilley, National Public Relations Manager, +61 2 8297 2421, 0437 725 520,
E helina.lilley@au.gt.com