Online shopping tax 'would have little impact'

The proposed introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and import duties on purchases from foreign websites worth less than $1,000 would have little impact on online shopping, a leading economist has suggested.

A coalition of major retailers, including Myer, Harvey Norman, David Jones and Target, is continuing to generate controversy by calling for an end to tax exemptions on foreign purchases that are made online.

However, HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham has claimed that such a proposal would not have a major impact on Australians' shopping habits as consumers would still look online to secure bargains, regardless of a new tax.

"The bottom line from my perspective is I don't think it will make an awful lot of difference," he told the Herald Sun. "The GST is only ten per cent and I think that there are growing signs that you can get larger discounts than that by making purchases offshore irrespective."

Shoppers aiming to boost their spending power can also choose to compare credit cards in search of the best offers. Retailers have claimed that an end to the GST loophole on offshore purchases is necessary for creating a level playing field and for protecting domestic businesses and jobs.

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