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GST-free shopping 'totally unfair'

Retail boss Gerry Harvey says the government should abolish the GST exemption on imported goods, adding his voice to a chorus of retailers rallying against the tax-free threshold on online purchases.

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By Georgia Wilkins

It comes ahead of a meeting between state and federal treasurers tomorrow to consider their options on the issue and assess a report from the Commonwealth Treasury.

Speaking to shareholders at his company Harvey Norman's annual general meeting, Mr Harvey said although the company was not directly affected by the $1000 tax-free exemption, it should be changed.

"This is totally unfair," he said. "It won't make any difference to us, but it is totally unfair."

The National Retail Association has lodged a submission with the Commission of Audit calling for shoppers to be charged GST on overseas purchases worth more than $20.

Mr Harvey, whose stores sell furniture and electrical goods, said the company was not affected by the tax discrepancy because most of the goods bought online were clothes and smaller goods.

He said, however, that retail conditions remained some of the worst he had seen and that sales had not experienced a huge pick up since the election.

"Business overall is not bad, but it's not easy," he said. "I don't see how it's going to improve suddenly."

Last week, Myer and Just Jeans owner Premier Investments renewed calls for the exemption on imported goods to be removed, saying they would be forced to cut jobs unless there was a "level playing field".

Currently, goods under $1000 bought online from overseas companies attract no GST.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/retail/gstfree-shopping-totally-unfair-gerry-harvey-20131126-2y79x.html#ixzz2liRZ4IOl