Here are some of the stories that caught my attention in the past week or so:
Update on the “Amazon.com Tax” and “Netflix Tax” changes to Australian GST
Further to my previous article, on 16 February 2017 the Commonwealth Government introduced a bill to Parliament that seeks to change the law to extend the Australian GST to so-called “low value” imports (under $1,000) of physical goods, from 1 July 20172018*.
The first Senate hearings into the Bill were held on 21 April. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Senate has heard from vendors and platforms such as eBay, Alibaba and Amazon, and even the transportation & logistics companies, that none
of whom want the administrative burden (cost and complexity) of having to determine whether and how much GST they need to collect on behalf of overseas retailers.
The “vendor registration model” for low-value goods is in line with the one for the Government’s proposed ‘Netflix Tax’. That would require offshore vendors to register and account for GST on the supply of things other than goods and real property to Australian consumers, also from 1 July 2017.
* On 26 June 2017, Parliament passed the Treasury Laws Amendment (GST Low Value Goods) Act 2017 (Cth) to remove the “low value goods exemption” (under Australia’s GST legislation) on goods imported into Australia, with effect from 1 July 2018. This note was updated 16 August 2017 to reflect this change.
Broadband and Internet
Net neutrality has taken a big step forward in Canada, with the CRTC ruling against Videotron’s zero-rated music streaming service, and releasing a 4-point code for evaluating whether a service is net-neutral. Michael Geist and Ars Technica each have articles discussing the implications of the CRTC decision.
On 13 April 2017, the grace period closed for Australian Internet service providers and telecoms carriers to comply with the mandatory data retention scheme. They are required to retain prescribed non-content metadata for 2 years – or for “subscriber information”, for 2 years after the subscriber’s account is closed.
On a related note, the A-G’s Dept has backed down on its late-2016 proposal to allow civil litigants to access metadata collected by the data retention scheme. The report to Parliament concluded there is not enough support for expanding these regulations. It’s worth noting that litigants are (with a court order) still able to access other metadata which ISPs retain, other than solely to comply with the scheme.