The Government is moving to level the playing field

New Zealand has long been disadvantaged by a tax loophole that means foreign firms don't pay GST to the Government when they are selling over the Internet to New Zealanders. This has been unfair for taxpayers, who have missed out on substantial revenue flows, and for retailers, who have faced a price disadvantage in the market caused entirely by Government tax policy.

After an extensive campaign by Retail NZ, the Government has announced that it will follow Australia's lead and require foreign websites to register for GST when selling to New Zealanders. While legislation has yet to be passed, this will take effect from 1 October 2019.

Background information:

  • In June 2018, we made a submission to Inland Revenue on its detailed discussion document about low value goods. Read our submission here.
  • On 1 May 2018, we welcomed the Government's announcement that it would be levelling the playing field for Kiwi retailers. Read our press release here.
  • On 14 March 2018, we wrote to Ministers expressing further concern that Kiwi retailers are now required to register for Australian GST while Aussie websites are given a tax-free pass by our Government. We also reiterated our call for action in the 2018 Budget. Read the letter here.
  • On 19 February 2018, we wrote to the Revenue Minister expressing our concerns about delay in dealing with the de minimis. Read the letter here.
  • On 20 December 2017, a number of retailers wrote to the Government seeking urgent action on the de minimis issue. Read the letter here.
  • On 5 December 2017, we met Revenue Minister the Hon Stuart Nash and pushed the case for urgent action on the de minimis.
  • On 9 November 2017, the Australian Productivity Commission confirmed that requiring foreign websites to register GST is the most feasible way of resolving the eFairness loophole and that there is no reason for any delay in implementing. This finding holds true in New Zealand as well, and we've told the new Government that. See our letter to the Minister of Revenue here.
  • On 17 July 2017, the Minister of Revenue declined to commit to fixing the efairness loophole, but told us that the Government is committed to a solution that is "fair, robust and sustainable". We don't think this is good enough after nine years in office! Read the reply here.
  • On 22 June 2017, we wrote to the Minister of Revenue and Minister of Customs asking that they commit to implementing offshore supplier registration in tandem with Australia from 1 July 2018. Read our letter here.
  • On 21 June 2017, the Australian federal Parliament passed legislation requiring the offshore registration of suppliers sending goods to Australian consumers from 1 July 2018 - but there is still no action from our New Zealand Government.
  • In May 2017, the Minister of Revenue responded to our concerns. Read her letter here.
  • In May 2017, we met Revenue Minister the Hon. Judith Collins and presented new analysis to the Government which clearly shows that offshore supplier registration is the best practical solution to dealing with the issue.
  • In May 2017, we wrote to the new Minister of Customs briefing him on the issue.
  • In April 2017, we made a submission to the Australian Senate on the proposed approach here.
  • In December 2016, we received a reply to our letter from the Minister of Customs. The Minister's reply does not fill us with confidence that the Government understands the significance of this issue, or that it is looking for pragmatic ways to resolve the problem. Instead, it remains fixated on managing low-value goods AT THE BORDER - which is like looking for the answer to the wrong question. Instead, we think the Government should be following the Australian lead and collecting tax at the point of sale - so goods can flow freely across the border.
  • In November 2016, we made a submission to the Australian Treasury in relation to draft legislation to close the fairness loophole in Australia. You can read our letter here.
  • In November 2016, we wrote again to the Minister of Customs, letting her know that the Australian Government has confirmed it is implementing offshore supplier registration from July 2017 and urging the Government here to follow suit. You can read our letter here.
  • In August 2016, we raised the issue with the Hon. Bill English, Minister of Finance. We followed up with a letter to which the Minister of Customs replied. You can see her reply here.
  • In June 2016, the Hon Nicky Wagner, Minister of Customs announced that the Government would not be altering the de minimis until at least 2018/19. This is deeply disappointing and we don't think it's good enough. You can see our response to Ministers here.
  • In January 2016, we lodged a submission on the Taxation (Residential Land Withholding Tax, GST on Online Services and Student Loan Bill).
  • In August 2015, the Minister of Revenue Todd McClay released the discussion paper 'GST: Cross-border services, intangibles and goods'. Read our submission on the discussion paper.
  • We wrote to the Minister of Revenue in May 2015, following the announcement of the Budget, to tell him how disappointed retailers are that the de minimis threshold has not been addressed. Read our letter to the Minister.
  • We wrote to the Minister of Revenue in March 2015, following his announcement that he had asked his officials to report to him "in the short term" on the ways that other countries are taxing digital service and low value goods.
  • We wrote to the Prime Minister in March 2015, following his comments that the de minimis creates an "unfair disadvantage" to New Zealand based retailers.
  • We wrote to the Minister of Finance in December 2014 recommending he close the GST loophole to achieve budget surplus. Read our letter to the Minister, and his reply.
  • We made a submission to the OECD on its draft guidelines for taxing services and intangibles. We recommended that the solution proposed should also be applied to low-value goods and that the OECD needs to consider this as a matter of urgency. Read our submission to the OECD
  • We made a submission to Treasury suggesting that the Productivity Commission investigate the de minimis issue. The Commission is an independent body that provides advice to Government on ways to improve the productivity of New Zealand. Read our letter to Treasury.