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All online goods will ‘eventually be subject to GST’

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ISLANDERS will eventually pay GST on all imported online goods, as planned international agreements will force suppliers – rather than border control agencies – to collect sales taxes, the Treasury Minister has said.

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During States questions, Deputy Susie Pinel confirmed that proposals to lower Jersey’s de minimis [exemption] limit for GST on imported goods below the current threshold of £240 had been excluded from her draft budget after discussions with ministerial colleagues.

The proposed move had been favoured by businesses within the Island’s retail sector, who claim they are unfairly disadvantaged because they have to charge GST on low-value goods, while online competitors, such as Amazon, do not.

Consumer groups opposed the plan, however, and an online petition calling for the threshold to be maintained gathered more than 1,100 signatures.

In response to questioning by Deputy Mike Higgins, the minister said that the matter would remain under review and that she expected the threshold in all countries to eventually be removed.

‘I can confirm that following discussions with ministerial colleagues there are no proposals in the budget to reduce the GST de minimis threshold,’ she said.

‘However, Treasury will keep the de minimis threshold under close review, monitoring the data available on the important importation of low-value goods.’

She added: ‘As has been said before, the longer-term future for the GST de minimis is clear. In the not-too-distant future the de minimis thresholds will disappear across the globe, as large countries move collection of GST on low-value goods away from the border and place the responsibility for collection on those who supply the goods.

‘When this happens Jersey will be a fast follower, eradicating the de minimis and levelling the playing field between local and off-Island retailers.’

Deputy Higgins asked the minister how soon this was likely to happen, to which the minister responded that it would depend on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
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