Proposed Tax Changes Could Cut Into Import Savings for Aussies

Written by Aaron Mitchell | Monday, 01 November 2010 21:06


If you live in Australia and buy video games you’re probably more than a little incensed to learn that, even though the Australian and US dollar’s are almost on equal footing right now. Never has there been a better time to purchase your game goods from a store in Asia, Europe or the US courtesy of our mighty kangaroo dollar.

Unfortunately the retailers of Australia have a problem with this.

Currently there is a threshold for Goods and Service Tax (or as you may be more familiar with it GST) of $1000. Goods purchased from overseas only attract any Australian GST if they exceed in $1000. Retailers are asking that this threshold be pushed back to $400 or be abolished all together. Don't panic yet, this is economic law we're talking about and these things take time to approve, but its worth noting that the issue had become big enough to get nightly news attention.

Admittedly a $400 threshold still isn’t going to impact most Australian game shoppers, unless of course you want to buy a new console, then it could become a problem.

But completely removing the threshold is going to hike up the expense of being a gamer. On average gamers can currently save from $20 to $50 dollars (and that’s including the cost of delivery) by purchasing games from an online overseas retailer versus walking into an Australian store. It’s a staggering saving, especially for a market that’s made up of expensive units with the most desirable titles usually going on sale within a week of each other during peak shopping periods.

Put simply, games aren’t cheap, and gamers can and will take every opportunity to save money so they can buy more games. The worst inconvenience for gamers is waiting a week longer than their fiscally minded compatriots to get their hands on a game with the average post time from overseas often running to 5 working days.

As an example I recently purchased a copy of the expensive Legendary Edition of Halo: Reach from a store based in England. I saved myself a cool $80 on the purchase, including the shipping cost! I even bought a standard copy on launch day and played that for a week before trading it back to EB Games and getting all my money back.

Of course the flip side of the coin is that this is pretty poor times for Australian retailers. I’m not in the know to detail who exactly in the chain of distribution is responsible for the incredible mark up we pay on products in Australia. But in the face of such value, and with gaming being such an expensive hobby, not to mention the sky rocketing cost of living in Australia, it’s hard to argue for being economically responsible.

So what do you think gamers currently reading this? Should Australian retailers be supported? Is it worth paying a 100% mark up for our digital creature comforts?

Or does our business go to the highest bidder?