GST blue benefits charity

MORE than four months after the introduction of the GST it is clear that the majority of Australian businesses have complied with the GST pricing requirements. However, where the ACCC has become aware of non-compliance it has sought to ensure that businesses act quickly to rectify the problem and to compensate their customers. In some cases, this has called for innovative administrative solutions.

A recent example of this is the case of Michael Hill Jewellers.

In July 1999 the Wholesale Sales Tax on watchbands was reduced from 32 per cent to 22 per cent, but Michael Hill Jewellers had failed to pass on this reduction due to computer errors. When they became aware of the problem they advised the ACCC and assured it the computer errors had been corrected.

Given the size of the refund for each individual and that there were a number of practical problems in identifying and refunding customers, Michael Hill Jewellers made a donation of $10,000 to the Starlight Foundation.

The ACCC believes that this donation effectively divested the company of any benefit it may have gained from the overcharging and that it would be unlikely that any affected customer would object to the donation.

Australia’s consumers have been vigilant about GST-related prices and are continuing to question prices and price movements. The ACCC will undertake ongoing price monitoring and complaint investigation over the coming months. If you are concerned that the GST has been incorrectly charged, or you would like more information on prices, please visit the ACCC website at or call our price line on 1300 302 502.

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