Hockey hints at GST clampdown on Netflix

netflix_australia-234x107The Australian Government is set to bow to pressure from local media organisations and impose stricter tax rules on Netflix and other overseas providers.

According to the Australian Financial Review, treasurer Joe Hockey has flagged that movies and music downloaded from overseas providers will be subjected to GST after a widespread agreement at a federal and state level to strengthen the “integrity” of the tax.

There are also moves to apply GST to goods imported online, which are valued at less than $1000 and are currently free of the tax.

“I see this as an integrity measure, not a broadening of the GST of a deepening of the GST,” Hockey said.

The apparent move to clamp down on overseas providers followed tense exchanges at yesterday’s Senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance where News Corp chief executive Julian Clarke claimed Google and Netflix were creating an “unlevel playing field that we feel passionate about”.

Asked to give his views on the GST tax arrangements of its overseas competitors, Clarke said: “Netflix have just come into this country. They have been able to price themselves below the company that we have, which is Presto. But it’s not just us – it’s also the Fairfax joint venture with Nine (Stan).

“We would be looking to Parliament to fix that problem. If the GST isn’t applied here and it allows a foreign company to come here and have a lower operating cost base then clearly it’s not a level playing field.”


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