Australian Taxation Office

UPDATE March 2016

The industry funded Joint Submission and lobbying of the Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia Inc. (CBFCA), Conference of Asia Pacific Express Carriers (CAPEC) and Australian Federation of International Forwarders (AFIF), has now made GST workable in our industry!

Concerted, protracted and labour intensive negotiations have finally resulted in the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) agreeing to a methodology of handling GST in the international supply chain. In short, GST is to be levied on all services for goods entering Australia.

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UPDATE June 2011

We have been working collaboratively with key industry stakeholders in an aim to seek changes to the GST law to take account of unintended consequences arising from amendments to the GST cross border transport provisions made by Tax Laws Amendment (2010 GST Administration Measures No. 3) Act 2010.
This is a work in progress, with the Department of Finance, which stalled with the change in government 2013.


The initial ATO review of how this was to be administered (by the ATO) created confusion within our industry. The consortiums initial submission was to get the Government to understand that to charge GST to overseas entities was impractical. The ATO accepted that agreement and considered it had resolved that issue by ruling if our services were being charged to an overseas principal, then all of those costs are to be included in the VOTI along with freight and duty. The ATO then created confusion by defining “place of consignment”, which then led to shipping and airlines not knowing whether to charge GST on their local charges. The issue with this being that if they did not charge GST, then the ATO required this to be included in the VOTI, and this threatened the timeliness of lodging the Full Import Declaration.

The Ruling is now available by clicking HERE, and it describes, in full, the aspect that customs brokers and freight forwarders can now choose and the method that best suits their business practises. If the shipping or airline does not charge GST on their local charges, then the customs broker/forwarder can either include it in the VOTI, or charge the GST to its principal on their invoice. Either way, the ATO collects GST on the services.

If the principal is an overseas entity, then all charges, including the customs broker/forwarder fee(s), must be included in the VOTI. 

UPDATE June 2011

The CBFCA is pleased to advise that the industry commissioned advocate (Ernst & Young) has received a formal commitment from Bill Shorten (Assistant Treasurer, Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation) that he will arrange Treasury to consult with representatives of the cross-border industry, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), and other relevant stakeholders with a view to developing options for his consideration.

The Minister's stated aim of this approach is to "address the compliance concerns being experienced by industry whilst still maintaining the integrity of the GST revenue and the existing GST policy"

The CBFCA will keep members up to date on pertinent developments.

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