The government was planning to lower the GST importation threshold for overseas purchases from $1000 to $500 in October 2010, documents released under Freedom of Information (FOI) revealed.

These documents, obtained by lobby group the Fair Imports Alliance, indicated that the government was giving serious consideration to reducing the GST threshold on imports prior to the announcement of the Productivity Commission Inquiry. It showed that 1 July 2011 was nominated as the start date for a lower threshold and that Customs provided advice that a reduced threshold was administratively feasible.

Fair Imports Alliance spokesperson Brad Kitschke said the documents released under the FOI showed the Government went so far as to ask for advice from Customs and Treasury as to the earliest possible start date for a threshold reduction.

“The Government has always claimed a lower threshold would be administratively unfeasible but these documents reveal otherwise. They show that it could be done, that plans were in place to reduce the threshold and advice was sought as to the earliest possible start date,” he said.

“Now that we have proof a lower threshold is both administratively feasible and economically beneficial we eagerly await the Productivity Commission’s recommendations when its draft report is released in August.”

The Productivity Commission Inquiry is expected to release a draft report in August on the economic structure and performance of the retail industry, which is expected to cover issues regarding the GST-threshold.