Australian businesses and consumers alike could soon be slugged for receiving goods shipped from overseas, with the Prime Minister keeping mum on the leaked proposal.
Fairfax Media has reported that it obtained documents from the Department of Home Affairs proposing a tax on packages coming to Australia from overseas, with the aim of recouping the cost of customs and security in scanning packages for illicit goods.
Reports suggest such a charge could be anywhere between $2 and $7 per package, with $5 being the commonly held number.
However the reports remain unconfirmed, with no one in government willing to speak publicly about the proposal.
The Department of Home Affairs refused to answer questions from My Business about the proposal, and simply referred My Business to Mr Turnbull’s doorstop press conference in which the matter was raised fleetingly.
Mr Turnbull was asked “Why is the government considering a $5 tax on overseas purchases?”, to which he replied “There’s a big assumption in what you're saying, so I wouldn't rely on that just because you read it in one of our distinguished newspapers. As you know the Budget is only weeks away so were not going to comment on the budget. I’ll just leave it at that.”
If such a tax went beyond one-off consumer purchases to shipments of all size to businesses importing goods and raw materials, it could quickly become a significant cost burden.
The possibility of a tax on packages adds a new layer of interest for the business community on this year’s federal Budget, which is already expected to address changes to the company tax rate, the $20,000 instant asset write-off as well as the rules and auditing of work-related expenses.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.