Like most politics, the Australian Federal Budget is traditionally a rather dull affair, but the one due to be handed down next week could potentially impact on PC gamers Down Under, by making us pay even more for our video games.
The topic of a “Netflix Tax” has been thrown around for a little while now, a proposed new tax applied to digital goods bought online (like Netflix, eBooks …or y’know, something like Steam). As it stands, digital goods sold online do not have Australia’s 10% GST applied, while retailers selling items within Australia do have to pay the extra charge.
Earlier this week, Ministers reportedly decided against rushing the new bill through, as the Federal Government instead considered an “elegant” solution that reduces the current threshold applied to goods purchased overseas from AU$1000 to something much lower (the Government has previously considered $500, while Canada’s threshold is just $20). That decision has apparently now been overturned, as the lack of tax allegedly costs Australians more than AU$1 billion in tax revenue, as well as impacting on local retailers – something too big to ignore.
So now, the Netflix Tax seems back on the table for the upcoming budget, threatening to add 10% to all online, digital purchases. This would bump up the price of a Netflix subscription by 10%, and is likely to increase all Steam games by the same amount. iTunes already pays GST on all Australian sales – including downloads – so its prices would not change.
Whether or not it makes it in time (the 2015 Federal Budget will be handed down on Tuesday night) is a different question, but it’s certainly something being discussed in great detail. Maybe rather than a question of “if” such a tax will be imposed, it’s more a question of “when” – and “how much”.