Earlier this year, Customs ran a campaign to crack down on goods being shipped into the country that was trying to avoid paying GST and duties.
Currently, goods worth $1,000 or less being shipped into Australia do not have GST applied to them. Retailers have been up in arms over this low-value threshold, as some claim online retailers and foreign companies have been given an unfair competitive advantage because of it.
There has also been pressure from lobby groups on Customs regarding retailers using this rule to sneak in products tax-free by falsely claiming they are under the threshold.
To combat this, Customs set up a campaign on self-assessed clearances (SACs), which are forms submitted online, or via an authorized broker, that connects to the Integrated Cargo System.
The SACs are required to clear goods imported by air and sea that are below the $1,000 threshold.
In the first three months of this year, over 2.4 million SACs were received, with Customs investigating 31,000 of them, and 1,624 cases identified where tax was being avoided from undervaluation or split consignments.
“Where goods worth over $1,000 were found to be undervalued or part of a bulk order, the importer was required to make a full import declaration, pay the appropriate GST, customs duty, and import processing charge.,” said a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson.
A total of 280 penalties are being imposed on incorrect declarations.
This is made up of 10 impoundment notices, which require twice the amount of duty evaded to be paid to Customs before the goods are released, 7 instances worth more than $1,250 in evasion, and 183 notices where more than $500 in GST was being avoided.
An additional 80 non-compliance records are also being prepared under the Infringement Notice Scheme.
“In instances where there is evidence of deliberate non-compliance, penalties are being considered under the Infringement Notice Scheme or the Indirect Taxation Administrative Penalties scheme, depending on the seriousness of the offense,” added the spokesperson.
Industry groups representing large retailers have also called for the GST threshold to be lowered from $1,000 to $100.