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Jim Sutton on Australian GST

Press Release

26 May 2000

GOVERNMENT WORKS TO RESOLVE AUSTRALIAN GST ISSUES

New Zealand exporters have till Wednesday, May 31, to register as businesses for GST purposes in Australia, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton said many exporters had expressed their concerns about how the Australian Tax Office was handling the introduction of a goods and service tax. The new GST is due to come into force on July 1.

The chief frustration of exporters appears to come from the difficulty in getting authoritative information about the practical requirements of the new taxation system.

Officials had talked through several issues with the Australian Tax Office to try to get some clarification and substantial progress had been made, Mr Sutton said.

"I am pleased to say that we have an agreement from the Australian Tax Office that New Zealanders exporting to Australia on a FIS (Free In Store) or DDP (Duty Delivery Paid) basis are eligible to register under the new system. They should do so using a hard copy of the application form, entering their New Zealand street address if they have no premises in Australia."

While considerable headway had been made in resolving some difficulties faced by exporters, time was now tight and applications to register for GST in Australia needed to be make quickly, Mr Sutton said.

The deadline for applications is Wednesday, May 31. Application forms are available at Trade NZ offices, Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry offices, and from the Export Institute.

Trade NZ account managers could also provide background information on the changes for companies.

Mr Sutton said his officials were working hard to ensure New Zealand exporters were not disadvantaged as the new Australian tax system settled in.

"I am conscious that New Zealand companies have up till now had great difficulty registering for the Australian GST through no fault of their own. I am pleased the Australian Tax Office has now attempted to iron out these difficulties."

Those companies who export to Australia on a CIS (Cost Insurance Freight) or FOB (Free On Board) basis, which are not required to register for GST, were apparently having problems with Australian customers unwilling to deal with them because they did not have an Australian Business Number, Mr Sutton said.

The lack of an Australian Business Number meant that 48.5 per cent of any payments due to those exporters could be withheld.

Mr Sutton said work was being done to deal with that, and it was possible a letter could be provided by the Australian Tax Office to resolve that. Officials were continuing to work on it.

ENDS

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