Amazon blocks Australian shoppers from global sites over tax

Australian customers will no longer be able to use the Amazon US website from July 1. File pic. Source Getty ImagesMore

Previously, the tax was only applied to purchases over AU$1,000.

"As a result of changes to Australian GST law on 1 July, worldwide shopping options for Australian customers will change".

Jeff Bezos' Bazaar told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that from July 1, 2018, it will redirect Australian visitors to Amazon Australia - which is pretty lame compared to the full Amazon.com - but does charge GST (which us Australia's equivalent of sales tax or VAT).

"While we regret any inconvenience this may cause customers, we have had to assess the workability of the legislation as a global business with multiple worldwide sites", it said in a statement.

It may also benefit Amazon's main rivals, from California-headquartered online market eBay to smaller Australian merchants which had campaigned to have the GST apply to all goods shipped from overseas. Local media reports that these store chains have heavily lobbied the government in recent years to extend the GST to online products sold by vendors situated overseas, to level the playing field.

It is understood that Amazon baulked at the massive administrative burden of tracking Australian GST from all overseas transactions.

"This will allow us to provide our customers with continued access to (our) global selection and remain compliant with the law", it said.

Until now, GST has applied only to most goods sold in Australia and imported goods worth over A$1,000, making relatively low-priced imported items cheaper than their equivalents in local stores. Most Australians have decried the Amazon.com.au store as being inferior to the U.S. store, with a considerably thinner product catalog and higher prices.

But even with the changes, the number of products available will be a fraction of what's on sale globally.

"The government doesn't apologise for ensuring multinationals pay a fair amount of tax here in Australia", he said.

This is obviously a bit of a blow for Aussie shoppers - the United States version of the site has a vastly larger selection of goods available, many of which were cheaper even after factoring in shipping costs.

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