Thought this relevant given most people on here have bought goods from overseas online shopping websites:
ONLINE shoppers who try to avoid paying GST on items from overseas have been warned they face massive fines if they are caught.
Customs said penalties ranged from being made to repay the tax to fines of up to $110,000. In many cases shoppers face a fine that is worth five times the amount of tax they tried to dodge.
Some overseas websites have been reportedly offering fake invoices to Australian shoppers to make it appear goods cost less than the $1000 threshold at which the GST is charged.
One report said a Hong Kong-based website offered a $900 invoice for an $1800 camera and it was deliberately done so the buyer could avoid paying GST.
But Customs insists it is not a widespread problem and says there is "no significant evidence of widespread undervaluation of goods".
A recent three-month blitz by Customs found 99 per cent of international mail items and 98 per cent of air and sea cargo goods complied with the law.
Customs said it had fined 51 people or companies in the 10 months to April for making "false and misleading statements" about the value of imports.
But retailers, who have been hit by falling sales, insist it is a widespread problem and they are not convinced the Government is doing enough to tackle it. They want the GST charged on all overseas sales.
Harvey Norman boss Gerry Harvey has been leading the charge and has claimed some overseas retailers go to extraordinary lengths, such as posting shoes one at a time with separate invoices.
A Productivity Commission report found lowering the threshold from $1000 to $100 could cost $1.2 billion in administration and compliance costs and collect only $500 million in revenue.
A spokesman for Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury said the Government has set up a taskforce to look at options and it was due to report next month