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The Almighty Buck

eBay sellers Told to Include GST 271

noisymime writes "The Age is running a story on how The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has requested eBay Australia to enforce the inclusion of the GST on all sales/auctions. Previously this was recommended but not a requirement. Is this reasonable protection for buyers or simply a frustration for everyone? What about all the other sales and auction sites available to Australians?" Moreover, how will this apply to other countries with GSTs - or sales tax?
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eBay sellers Told to Include GST

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  • Yard Sales.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WhatAmIDoingHere ( 742870 ) * <sexwithanimals@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @10:16PM (#12630530) Homepage
    Are we going to have to start charging tax on purchases at our Yard/Tag/Garage sales?
    • Re:Yard Sales.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by syousef ( 465911 )
      Are we going to have to start charging tax on purchases at our Yard/Tag/Garage sales?

      In Australia that's exactly what you're required by law to do.

      Tax system here is a goddamn joke.

      (It's worse for land. You're charged income tax on the money you use to buy the land, stamp duty when you buy, land tax every year by the state government, and land rates by the local council every quarter. Then when you sell the property there's a vendor tax. If you've made any money by renting it out that's more income tax
      • (It's worse for land. You're charged income tax on the money you use to buy the land, stamp duty when you buy, land tax every year by the state government, and land rates by the local council every quarter. Then when you sell the property there's a vendor tax. If you've made any money by renting it out that's more income tax you've got to pay.).

        No different from here in the states, although selling land is a bit better deal as it is a capital gain (those rates are capped below the regular income tax rate

        • Here is my howto to avoid capital gains tax on land.

          step one move into said house

          step two sell it and get a capital gains exception of up to $500,000

          This is of course fraud if you havn't actually lived their for 2 of the last five years, but with co-operative renters (they will need to let you get some mail there) and low scruples (or the belief that taxes are actually the crime) you can juggle 2 homes and sell them with very little capital gains.
          • land != house.

            Farmland purchased for the grand sum of $500/acre in the 50's is worth around $3k/acre today - which is a heck of a big gain if you've got more than 1 acre.

            There are no capital gains exemptions for farmland so the entire gain is taxable.

            Also, be careful with your juggling. As poor as the IRS's computers are, they do match 1099's and 1040's. And there are tax forms that do get filed with the sale of a home.

        • the article says: "The modified policy only applies to eBay sellers who are required to be registered for GST," Mr Samuel said.

          i don't know what that means over there, but in the USA you do not have to pay tax if you are selling your own stuff. if you are running an online store or something it is a different story. if you sell an old laptop or a pair of skis then you, in theory, already paid any required possible tax on the item and do not have to again. i think if the item went up in value then you are m
      • Re:Yard Sales.. (Score:5, Informative)

        by mallie_mcg ( 161403 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @10:26PM (#12630615) Homepage Journal
        Are we going to have to start charging tax on purchases at our Yard/Tag/Garage sales?

        In Australia that's exactly what you're required by law to do.



        No you are very wrong. You are only required to be registered for GST if you are using it as a form of income where it exceeds 50,000 AUD per annum.

        If i want to sell my car privatly no GST needs to be paid.

        If I sell cars for a living and sell less than $50,000 AUD per annum I will need an ABN but no GST needs to be paid. (Income tax on the profit does though!!)

        If I sell lots of cars for a living (more than 50,000 AUD) I need to be registered for GST and pay GST on those cars regardless of source (although I can claim input tax credits).

        Seeing as you obviously dont understand the tax system I suggest that you call the ATO or have a read of the publically available information [ato.gov.au]. Personally I found that they are very helpful with phone calls.
        • You need to pay GST on transactions regardless of whether you're registered or not.

          If you're not registered (or if you don't issue a valid 'tax invoice'), the company to which you sell the goods or services must withhold 48.5% of the value of the invoice and send that to the taxation office.

          GST does not apply on used items, including cars.

      • Re:Yard Sales.. (Score:3, Informative)

        by B747SP ( 179471 )
        In Australia that's exactly what you're required by law to do.

        You'd make less of a fool of yourself if you didn't waffle about subjects that you clearly know nothing about.

        These types of activities are specifically excluded from Australian Goods and Services Tax (GST). If you're selling something privately, its not your usual business, etc, etc, then you don't have to provide a tax invoice, collect GST, etc. If you're selling to a business, then that business is required by law to withhold 48.5% of their

      • Used goods are exempt from GST, as someone has already paid it when the goods were created.
    • Re:Yard Sales.. (Score:3, Informative)

      by conran ( 837379 )
      Read the article again. The move is not to make people start CHARGING GST, it's to require them to INCLUDE GST in the total price, a law that exists in every physical store in the country. Anybody who isn't required to charge GST (i.e. anybody who isn't making $50,000/year from the business) will remain unchanged. The people who were making over that simply have to say the price is $11.00 from the beginning rather than saying it's $10.00 + GST (the problem being combatted here being that the "+ GST part"
    • by G-funk ( 22712 ) <josh@gfunk007.com> on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @11:36PM (#12630992) Homepage Journal
      This really is all much ado about nothing. Ebay requires you to list GST only if you are charging it. Not that you charge GST on everything. Ie, you can't falsely advertise your products as being 10/11ths of the price, which is already illegal here in Australia. If you're selling an old Mickey Mouse watch, and you don't do so for a living, then you don't need to list or charge GST. Basically, this is simply eBay.au codifying what's already law.
  • by Kris_J ( 10111 ) * on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @10:18PM (#12630544) Homepage Journal
    "The modified policy only applies to eBay sellers who are required to be registered for GST," Mr Samuel said.
    I tried to email the editor but I was too slow. Not everyone in Australia needs to be registered for GST. In fact, below a particular profit or revenue level the government won't let you, or at least would really rather you didn't, register a business.
    • Too busy jumping on the sensational headlines. If this were about the tax, why would it be a consumer protection group asking Ebay? It's just about making sure the consumer isn't confused when they use auctions that charge the GST after the auction to get a little extra profit, business or not. This doesn't mean that every personal auction needs to charge and register for the GST.
    • I tried to email the editor but I was too slow.

      I don't think time was your most serious problem here.

      I've had the distinct impression for a while that all the editors email is mapped to /dev/null.
  • Chances are that most stuff on eBay in Australia was purchased in Australia and therefore GST would have already been paid for on the item.

    So why should anyone pay GST on second hand goods?
    • As far as I can tell to the extent that GST has already been paid no additional GST revenue should be gained. Whatever the GST componenant of the sale is will be offset by the GST that the seller paid. The government will only recieve additional revenue if the seller if there is added 'value'.

      This is only really relevant to people operating as businesses, there's no burden on Joe Average.

      The issue here is that some such businesses were charging customers GST anyway but not including it in the listing
    • This ISN'T to make everybody pay GST. This is to make those sneaky buggers that would charge 10% GST after the auction whether they collect GST or not include it in the auction price and not as a boost after-sale. This is for consumer protection, not taxation, it's just written up very badly as usual on Slashdot.
    • Well, when an American buys stuff in Canada, they pay the GST at the checkout counter. Then, when they're going through customs, they're supposed to get a GST claim form, where they can put how much GST they contributed in Canada, and they'll eventually get that GST back in a semi-timely fashion (i.e., weeks).
  • READ THE ARTICLE! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by skywire ( 469351 ) * on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @10:20PM (#12630555)
    Before all the indignant venting begins, please allow me to suggest that you take a moment to read the article.
  • by grahamsz ( 150076 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @10:21PM (#12630573) Homepage Journal
    Or at least have an option so you can display search results as total price including postage.

    I'm so sick of seeing "bargains" on ebay which are $1 with $16 postage.

    Personally i'd love it if they had a filter for "Items which start at 1c with no reserve" so that i can filter out all the businesses who simply retail on ebay.
    • by lithiumfox ( 736891 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @10:37PM (#12630682) Homepage
      There is an option on ebay that allows you to see shipping price on the main listing page along with the selling prices. If an item that actually sells for 12 dollars ebay and the shipping is 3 dollars, some people will list it that way. Others will list it as 1 dollar for the item and 14 dollars for shipping, thats because ebay does not charge you fees on shipping, but on the item alone. Sellers save a lot of money on seller fees doing this. A deal on ebay is not just the cost of the item, but the item + shipping, if not you can get just get it somewhere else.
      • I didn't know there was actually an option to do this. I've virtually stopped using ebay because of this problem.

        The weird thing is that by letting sellers away with this, ebay not only piss off buyers but end up costing themselves a lot in potential income.
      • check thier terms and conditions and if you belive a seller is in violation report them!

        its the only way you have any chance of getting anythign done against such people.
    • While I agree the retards that try schemes to jack the price suck, there are legit ones and often you can get a good deal. I bought a Colorimiter (device that measures the colour response of your monitor) new in box with full warantee for about $20 under what I could get it for off eBay. It was a store type thing, I mean they had like 10 of them for sale, in addition to tons of other items.

      Doesn't apply to everything, but often you can save money this way. I always check when I'm buying some kind of profes
  • This is a great move (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bigthecat ( 678093 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @10:21PM (#12630579)
    I used Ebay Australia a lot before this decision was made, and I'm very happy with it. Unlike what is being inferred, it isn't so that people will have to charge a tax on everything and do all the paperwork along with it. It is because of various auctions, e.g. a laptop, which would have a buy it now price or an auction price which seemed great or reasonable, but many sellers often left it in the fine print alongside unrelated things that the final cost needed 10% GST added, which was ultimately an easy way to get 10% more for your auctions, whether you were a business or not, and it was annoying.

    It has nothing to do with making people charge a tax with their auctions, it's simply a measure to stop people grabbing an extra 10% under the guise of a tax where they may not have actually needed to collect GST.

    • That's a "go get stuffed" call.

      I'm pretty sure you can only advertise "ex-GST" prices if you are wholesaling. Ebay is not a wholesaling site - and if you are selling a one-off item, then you would have a hard time claiming that you were, fine print or otherwize.

      Unlike California, the price on goods on the shop shelves in Aus is the price you pay. The 10% GST comes out if it and its the seller's problem, not the buyers. You are not allowed to advertised tax-exclusive prices.

      My current ebay pet hate is peo
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In Australia, assuming a good being sold is subject to the GST, the seller has to remit one eleventh of the sale price to the government if the buyer is within Australia (assuming the seller is a business; I'm ignoring individual, once-off sales.)

    The problem comes if the buyer is international -- eg, the US. In this case, it counts as an export, and is exempt from GST. This means that a bid of (for example) $105 by an international buyer is worth more to the seller than a domestic bid of $110.

    It means tha
  • If the seller suddenly starts charging 10% more because of this, then it's only fair that it is forced to be in the advertised price.

    If you are a commercial entity and need to charge GST, you should be so fair to show it in the price. And if you (or some rotten apples) don't but charge it later anyway, then they all have to suffer for it.

    If you are a simple garage saler, then it doesn't affect you.

    Very simple, I would even call it common sense :-)
  • by lheal ( 86013 ) <lheal1999@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @10:22PM (#12630587) Journal
    Beatles - Tax Man Lyrics
    Let me tell you how it will be
    There's one for you, nineteen for me

    (ref:)
    Cause I'm the tax man
    Yea I'm the tax man

    Should five percent appear too small
    Be thankful I don't take it all
    (ref)
    If you drive a car-car I'll tax the street
    If you try to sit-sit I'll tax your seat
    If you get too cold I'll tax the heat
    If you take a walk I'll tax your feet
    Tax man
    (ref)
    Don't ask me what I want it for
    If you don't want to pay some more
    (ref)
    Now my advice for those who die (tax man)
    Declare the pennies on your eyes (tax man)
    (ref)
    And you're working for no one but me
    (Tax man)
  • Time (Score:3, Funny)

    by mikejz84 ( 771717 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @10:23PM (#12630592)
    Was I the only on who read this and thought at first that they were talking about including the local time?
  • All this means is that if you are going to involve GST, it has to be part of the final auction price, rather than added to it after the auction ends. And this is good. Adding it on afterwards (unless it is clearly stated on the auction page) is deceptive. ebay received many complaints about this, so they are doing something about it.
  • To be clear........ (Score:5, Informative)

    by furiousgeorge ( 30912 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @10:24PM (#12630603)

    Even regular merchants in Australia need to advertise prices **WITH** GST included. I've also lived in Canada and the U.S., and I have to tell you it's nice to buy something and pay the price on the sticker.... not up to 15% more once they punch it into the register and the tax gets calculated.

    This warning came from the fact that commercial merchants (of which there are millions) on ebay were advertising without GST, and then adding it on to the final price after the auction when over. Thats pretty misleading from where I stand and perfectly reasonably. This will have no impact on the average Joe because he isn't required to charge GST.
    • I've also lived in Canada and the U.S., and I have to tell you it's nice to buy something and pay the price on the sticker.... not up to 15% more once they punch it into the register and the tax gets calculated.

      Up to 15% more? Where? Must be somewhere in Canada, because in the US the highest sales tax [yourtax.org] is in Tennesee, at 9.35%. What you see as an inconvenience is actually saving you money. The fact that people see exactly how much money the filthy local government is taking from them (and can therefore exp

      • There does seem to be a clear advantage of reminding people of the sales tax every single time they buy stuff.

        What did VAT in the UK used to be? GST in New Zealand started at 10% and was going to 12% but because of pricing issues, they had to make it 12.5% and the next step is 15%. The US system seems to be better at keeping so much money from ending up in an inefficient bureaucracy.
      • by Feztaa ( 633745 )
        Up to 15% more? Where? Must be somewhere in Canada, ...

        Yup. GST is 7% across the country, and then some provinces tack on a PST [taxtips.ca] on top of that. According to that link, PST (in the provinces that even have it) varies from 7% to 10%, making sales tax in those provinces 14% to 17% in total.
  • by zardie ( 111478 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @10:28PM (#12630627) Homepage
    Only individuals who have a registered Australian Business Number (ABN) AND who have registered to charge GST (and thus report on quarterly business activity and pay the GST to the tax office) are required (or allowed) to collect the GST. A business is only required to register for the GST if their turnover is inexcess of AUD$50k/year. An ABN holder who turns over less than AUD$50k/year can optionally register for the GST but they don't have to - and it is not legal to force them to do so.

    eBay are only being ordered to enforce those WHO ARE registered for the GST to include it in the final sale price. If you are not registered for the GST (or if you're selling a personal item), these changes do not apply to you.

    This is to combat deception where a seller would use the GST-exclusive price to outshine their competitors and then whack the GST on the top when payment is due. This is a result of where all prices quoted in Australia must already include the GST by law.
    • eBay are only being ordered to enforce those WHO ARE registered for the GST to include it in the final sale price. If you are not registered for the GST (or if you're selling a personal item), these changes do not apply to you.

      Despite being technically accurate owing to a couple of where applicables, their announcement was bound to cause confusion--ABC News Online also got it wrong in their initial report. Failure to foresee this confusion is one thing, but particularly annoying is that they sent out a cl
  • The point of TFA is that buyers couldn't tell what the price of any article was because some sellers would include tax and some wouldn't. Now all must. Thus it is an issue of fairness.

    As for the effect on buyers outside of Australia, most countries have a method for exempt persons to either get their GST back after the fact or avoid (with paperwork) paying it in the first place. In Australia for instance exports are considered GST free. Would a sale on eBay be considered an export?
  • by mjtg ( 173905 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @10:33PM (#12630652)
    "Some eBay buyers reported that they had been charged an additional 10 per cent on top of their winning bid or 'Buy It Now' price without having been properly alerted beforehand of the additional charge".

    Sounds like this requirement is a good idea.

    As an Aussie, I remember once buying a shirt in a shop in California. When I got to the checkout, I was charged for state tax on top of the price that was on the ticket. I didn't complain, because I realised at the time that that's how things are done in California.

    In Australia, however, it is universally assumed that advertised prices include all taxes. That's how things are done here. For an Australian website to advertise prices otherwise would be, IMHO, misleading.

    Yes, there are going to be lots of items that don't attract GST, so fine GST should not be charged on them. And yes, people outside Australia don't have to pay any GST. Fine. The simple solution is to require any sales that are subject to GST to have a note alongside the price sayng "plus 10% GST to Australian shipping addresses" or something. Easy.
    • As an Aussie, I remember once buying a shirt in a shop in California. When I got to the checkout, I was charged for state tax on top of the price that was on the ticket. I didn't complain, because I realised at the time that that's how things are done in California.

      This never seizes to annoy me whenever I visit the US. Of course with the weakness of the US dollar now any miscalculation due to states sales taxes are more than compensated for by me mentally overestimating the value of USD... :)

      In Aust

  • GST = (Score:3, Informative)

    by Endareth ( 684446 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @10:40PM (#12630705) Journal
    Goods and Services Tax Currently set at 10%
    • As if the WHO-O-O-O-O-OLE world knows what "GST" stands for like it's common knowledge. I never even heard the abr. until this /. article.
  • The Australian government isnt forcing EBAY to charge tax, and it isnt forcing anyone to pay tax. All they are stating, is that IF the item being sold has a tax portion, that is must be INCLUDED in the bidding price.

    Eg. under IT goods on ebay, many computer stores sell items, and they provide 'tax invoices' on the goods. However many also used to have a little 'note' in their payment section stating that the FINAL sale price was 'bid' price + 10% (GST).

    This can be frustrating for bidders who have to look
    • Whats funny about this is that under Canadian law (local to specific provinces) they are required to show GST seperate from the price, not inclusive.

      See, someone convinced the local government here in Manitoba that it was better to show GST on the receipt and not included in the price.

      Me, I think it is deceptive all-around and all retailers should be required to show both prices. That way the tax itself isn't hidden (by the government in prices), and the retails can't blame their high prices on the tax.
      • Me, I think it is deceptive all-around and all retailers should be required to show both prices. That way the tax itself isn't hidden (by the government in prices), and the retails can't blame their high prices on the tax.

        In Australia your receipt ("tax invoice") must indicate whether or not an item had GST attached (some items are GST-exempt), the total cost and the GST component of that total.

  • GST? (Score:2, Funny)

    by oingoboingo ( 179159 )
    For the life of me cannot see why eBay would require glutathione S transferases to be included with each auction. I suspect most bidders would already posses a number of isoforms.
  • by B747SP ( 179471 ) <slashdot@selfabusedelephant.com> on Tuesday May 24, 2005 @11:22PM (#12630919)
    What I find really interesting about this little hoo-haa is that, whilst eBay are pretending to be good citizen and making sure that buyers and sellers do The Right Thing(tm) with respect to Australian Goods and Services Tax (GST), they're cheating the Australian Government out of massive amounts of tax revenue at the same time.

    Take an example: I sold an item on ebay.com.au recently. I'm an Australian tax paying Australian citizen living in Australia, I used the services of the Australian eBay subsidiary to sell an item to another Australian citizen/resident/taxpayer, made the financial dealing in Australian dollars between Australian banks. Following the deal, eBay Australia sent me an invoice for services rendered, a fee in Australian dollars which they require to be paid to my choice of an Australian bank account or by mailing a cheque or money order to an Australian address.

    So I ask for an Australian Tax Invoice in accordance with Australian law. It seemed a reasonable request to me.

    Now, all of a sudden, eBay are dancing around alternating between calling themselves "eBay Inc.", an American company, and "eBay AG" (what is that, Swiss, or German or something). They won't answer communications about Australian tax, their 'support' monkeys just hit the 'random diversion' button and send off irrelevant "Thank-you for contacting eBay support, here's some information about... a Duck" type replies.

    I've had it with the fockers, after this little carry on, I'm gonna start whingeing at the tax office and the consumer whassname!

    • Did you retain 49% of the payment? They don't have to provide a tax receipt, but ...
    1. This applies to sales by people making a business of selling on Ebay. Flogging off the old TV you never use is still GST free.
    2. This has no real implications for other countries. The ACCC position is that quoting prices to consumers without including GST misleads the consumer as to the total cost. This offends against the prohibition against misleading conduct in trade and commerce under the Trade Practices Act.
    3. Yes, people making a business on Ebay will also offend if they don't provide postage information
  • ...in Soviet Australia, GST includes eBay sellers!
  • If the vendor is in Australia they have to state GST inclusive.

    It's really simple.

    The IT industry in this country thought they could ignore the law when it first came in but even those thick skulls eventually realised they were breaking the law.

    Incidentally I got some discounts around that time by demanding they stick by advertised prices (and pay the GST).
  • if gst is the same thing as vat, every price which is not on b2b price lists has to include vat

    so you always know how much you have to pay.
  • they are only talking about ebay shops. and yes i can see the tax departments point on this one. every other shop must charge gst, why the fuck should ebay shops think they are allowed to get away with it?
  • It about making Ebay prices transparent & fair for all.
    Certain commercial sellers [ebay.com.au] quote ex GST and this can be confusing for buyers & improve their ebay search ranking.

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