New EU proposals are not expected to be introduced until 2021 at the earliest but would effectively scrap de minimis levels placed on imports. Currently in Jersey, online sales under £240 are not charged GST when delivered to the Island.
Treasury Minister Susie Pinel had previously indicated that she was considering reducing the threshold as part of her 2019 Budget. However, no proposals were contained within the spending plan and the £240 limit is set to remain in place. She said that Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham has opposed any such change and was instead working on a new retail strategy to boost St Helier’s struggling high street.
An online petition calling for the current limit to remain unchanged surpassed 1,000 signatures – automatically triggering a response from the minister.
In her response, Deputy Pinel said she would continue to monitor the issue and added that potential EU regulations could ultimately undermine any de minimis levels.
She said: ‘The Treasury Minister has decided not to adjust the de minimis level in Budget 2019.
‘The minister will keep that level under review, taking into account any changes in the costs of collecting the GST currently foregone. It is expected that the de minimis level will be abolished shortly after the European Union implements changes – possibly as soon as 2021 – requiring online retailers to account for tax in the jurisdictions to which they deliver taxable goods.’
Earlier this year, members of the Jersey Retail Association warned that the industry was facing potentially record-breaking shop vacancy levels.
Deputy Pinel added: ‘The Economic Development Minister opposes lowering the de minimis level at this time. He anticipates that a lower de minimis level would have minimal impact on the prevailing on-Island environment for retail. The [Economic Development] Minister is devising a retail development strategy that aims to support the industry’s own efforts to deliver, among other things: a thriving St Helier Experience; focused market information; and, leading-edge skills and talent.
‘He anticipates that this work should have a greater positive impact on retail trading conditions than a change in the de minimis level or GST.’