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Online orders safe from extra tax…for now

Online orders safe from extra tax…for now

Wednesday 03 October 2018

Online orders safe from extra tax…for now

Plans to make more online shoppers pay GST in a drive to save the high street have been cut from the 2019 Budget after Ministers failed to agree on the issue, Express understands.

Treasury Minister Deputy Susie Pinel last week revealed she was considering reducing the £240 minimum limit for imported goods to be hit by the 5% tax to help the island’s struggling retail sector, ahead of the Budget.

The Treasury Minister had been looking to bring proposals forward in the 2019 Budget, which is due to be unveiled imminently, but sources told Express that the idea was dropped when the Council of Ministers failed to reach a consensus on the issue.

While a vote revealed appetite amongst some Ministers, others did not consider the move appropriate in the current economic climate, and felt that there were more effective ways to revitalise local retail.


Pictured: Local retailers felt that sites like Amazon were not on a "level playing field" due to the 'de minimis' clause.

However, that decision could still be reversed in a last-minute U-turn when Ministers agree the final Budget in a meeting today.

Even if the ‘de minimis’ level is not revised this year, it is expected that the topic will rear its head again as Brexit hits and amid heightening international discussions over how sales taxes should be charged across borders.

This latest update will nonetheless be a welcome relief for over 1,000 islanders who recently signed a petition aiming to halt plans to reduce the £240 threshold. 

Consumer Council Chair Carl Walker described the decision to keep ‘de minimis’ revisions out of the next Budget, which is due to be released next week, as a “victory for common sense.”

“How on earth the government could have even considered taxing, through legislation, the shopping we do online costing less than £240 without consulting consumers first is beyond me,” Mr Walker commented. 

Carl_Walker Consumer Council

Pictured: Carl Walker, Consumer Council Chairman.

"Taxing the opposition will not encourage more people to use the town centre. Even with the 5% added to all of their online shopping, it will still be cheaper and easier to shop online. We need a multi-agency approach to look at how we avoid St Helier becoming a sea of coffee shops and restaurants. What about free parking and buses on Saturdays? What about looking into a rent cap per square foot on retail space? What about relaxed trading hours? This is where retailers' energy should be focused - not trying to change consumers' shopping habits through taxation," he said.

If or when the subject re-emerges, the Chairman said he hoped the lobby group would be invited to share its views on reviving bricks-and-mortar retail in a way that isn’t detrimental to shoppers’ pockets. 

The government’s own purse strings will also play a part in discussions, sources added, as one of the key issues is whether processing tax on low-value items could actually end up losing them money. 

Former Treasury Minister Philip Ozouf explored the issue back in 2014, concluding that removing the limit entirely would earn almost £800,000 per year for the taxman, but would also mean a significant increase in workload for Jersey Post and Customs.

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Posted by S P on
This encroaches my human rights as a buyer of goods and consumer. One cannot simply just keep adding a tax for imports or raising imports levels just because people are deciding to buy online and business owners are unhappy with that. Business owners will have to come back to reality to save their businesses and lower their silly prices just because we are in Jersey and they think they can add pounds as a consumer cannot buy elsewhere. Times have changed, it is not 1985 anymore. Purchasing online is the thing of the future, lower prices, more choice, and delivery to ones door. None of this "it takes 3 months to order" or "out of stock" rubbish. That is why people do not buy in town anymore. Retailers want your business but they do not have the goods to sell, they want cash upfront and expect you to wait. I spotted a jacket in London that I wanted in a designer store, so when I got home i checked to see if they had it in the Jersey department store who has a pop up section for the same designer. In London the Gant jacket was 195 pounds, and I could get the VAT back at the airport so can save 20 percent therefore the cost is 162.50. Now in Jersey, I went to buy the jacket thinking it would be 150 or same price, 165...... BUT, in that well known huge department store in town, the jacket was 275 pounds. I showed the guy the picture I had taken in London and the price tag, and he promptly replied "buy it in London then" and was not happy. Enough said!
Posted by William Boyd on
I have asked this before, where was this in anybody's election manifesto? Local shops have been overcharging for years and I can prove it, we all can. We don't need the trite 'it's freight charges' excuse. Things are cheaper in the Shetlands for heaven's sake and they are far further away from the centres of distribution than we are. Going off piste, where was it also in any candidates manifestor for introducing MOTs or bringing back annual motor tax? How can we hold politicians to account when they come up with this rubbish after being elected (or non elected if you are like most Connetables and small parish deputies) with nothing in their manifestos to warn us?
Posted by G D on
Some time back I've done similar, though via the online UK Gant store. Gant will happily deliver to your door in 3/4 days and deduct VAT at source on the invoice, as it recognises a Jersey address as being a VAT free jurisdiction. Having gone into the said department store to show what prices I was quoted, the shop's retail price was slightly more expensive than Gant's online price (inclusive of VAT). The shop assistant commented there was nothing they could do about that & so offered no discount at all, plus one of the items they didn't have in my medium size. So no surprise I ordered online and have done from Gant ever since.
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