eBay Oz gives sales records to the taxman

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We all knew this was coming: eBay Australia has given details of its top sellers to the Australian Taxation Office. The ATO have targetted sellers with turnover of more than AU$50,000, who should be registered for GST (sales tax): up to 1000 sellers are thought to be involved. The information handed over includes details of sales from 2003 to 2006. One of the sellers who is already registered for GST said she welcomed the move: “I have always been straight with my figures and if it is going to stop the ratbags out there who aren’t registered for GST, it’s a good thing.”

If you’ve forgotten to tell your own tax office about your eBay income, don’t think that this is going to be limited to Australia. British, European and American revenue officials all have their eyes on eBay, and it’s only a matter of time before you get caught. So contact them before they contact you.

In the meantime, sellers caught out might find some cold comfort in the fact that eBay themselves are registered as a foreign company in Australia, and are therefore not collecting any GST on their fees. We expect the ATO to change this very shortly.

Via Auctionbytes.

4 Responses

  1. “We expect the ATO to change this very shortly.”

    Why do we expect this? eBay already had serious talks with the ATO and they got the go-ahead to operate outside of the tax system. What has changed?

  2. Bonni: I’m told that numerous sellers are incorrectly claiming a GST element on their eBay invoices, when there isn’t one – I think for the sake of clarity, and as the Australian PESA guy says, “common sense”, eBay is going to have to register in Australia. Why would anyone be surprised that tax offices would change their attitude to eBay? After all, it’s gone from being an online flea market to big business: they have to take notice of it now in a way that two or three years ago would not have made sense. Not charging sales tax on fees hasn’t proved to be a long-term strategy in any other country: why would you expect Australia to be different?

  3. I would sincerely hope that eBay are soon required to register for GST. I’ve always thought it was a terrible oversight that they were allowed to get away with being unregistered, given thye millions of dollars in turnover they have. Apparently, the arrangement was approved by the ATO.

    That’s why I’m surprised. Maybe someone at the ATO has finally woken up and realised that this was a huge oversight.

  4. 😀 Your original comment sounded like you didn’t want it. I think it’s taken a lot of tax offices FAR TOO LONG to wake up to the internet generally. It’s like they had to learn a new thing, and couldn’t be bothered.

    Also I *may* be misremembering, but I seem to think that the UK tax people originally said there didn’t need to be VAT (our GST) charged on eBay fees… and then they said there did. So there is hope for Australia – tax officials can change their minds!


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