Ordering and Shipping

Locked Australian GST

Two major Australian retailers with large store networks, Harvey Norman and JB HiFi, now have “offshore web sites” selling goods to Australians without charging GST (Australia’s Goods and Services Tax)  which they otherwise have to charge for the same products sold in their Australian stores (link below).  GST is likewise not charged by every other business outside Australia selling goods to people in Australia that I know of.So why do Blurb.com charge GST for book purchases made outside Australia?Also why do Blurb claim it is taking so long to get an ABN (Australian Business Number), I got one for a business immediately via the Tax Office’s web site.  But I can see that you would have difficulty getting an ABN if you didn’t have a business in Australia, eg Blurb, which means you have no obligation to charge GST on purchases to people in Australia. Once Blurb realize that they don’t need to charge GST, they may regain back some of their goodwill by refunding to us all the GST charges they have collected from us. In fact if they don’t, then the Australian Tax Office will probably instigate legal proceedings against Blurb for illegally collecting an Australian tax (probably getting help from the IRS).http://www.news.com.au/technology/gaming/harvey-norman-launches-online-game-seller-site-in-competition-with-own-stores/story-e6frfrt9-1226228715224

Posted by
pvann
Jan 4, 2012 3:46pm PDT
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pvann
 

Blurb simply can’t charge GST unles they are registered. Once registered Blurb can not back date GST charges from previous sales etc. They can only charge GST on future sales once registered.

For Blurb to be charging GST and claiming they will regisiter later is either stupid or highly deceptive.

 All of the above is reasoned and balanced.

Please Blurb act in good faith and remove this charge. Please.

 

Posted by
hosegears6
Jan 9, 2012 3:13am PDT
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hosegears6
 

Blurb – Please help.

The reason Australians are not happy paying this tax is only because Blurb is NOT registered to collect it. This means Blurb will not be paying any amounts collected to the ATO, and I will instead pocket the profits.

 This law is clear in that a company cannot charge this GST tax unless they are registered to do so. They can also not registered and then *back date charges to past sales. Timing is critical to GST as not all Austrlian  companies are required to register for it. A company pays it only for the strict time period within the timeline of being registered and de-registered.

 Blurb have nformed me they are still awaiting an ABN. An ABN is seperate to GST, and is firstly required to apply to register for GST which is done later(Getting an ABN does not mean a company is registered for GST)

 This means Blurb has not even applied to be registered for GST, let alone been registered and alowed to charge for it.

 Blurb acting on being ‘advised’ means nothing.Their are also other issues with this TAX that I wont go into as the above is already clear enough.

 The law is clear on GST and charging this fees in this manner may appear frauduant.

 Blurb, please solve this issue in good faith. Please do not appear to be "bull..  …ting’  Australians with false claims of ABNs, GST, registration, delays etc.

 

 

Posted by
hosegears6
Jan 10, 2012 3:19pm PDT
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hosegears6
 

Hi there hosegears6,

Please see my post here, especially the part re: back-dating the ABN and GST, as it addresses the rather serious accusations you are making. I won’t be stepping backing into this conversation as, again, we’ve added all we can to the discussion, but I do want you to be aware of that information. 

Regards,

Michael/Blurb Customer Support

Posted by
mikewhy
Jan 10, 2012 4:00pm PDT
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mikewhy Icon_staff
 

I haven’t accused Blurb of fraud or anything underhand. I’m just bewildered, because, as I’ve previously stated, I get things from overseas all the time (books, CDs, clothing, photographic equipment) and I know of no other offshore company that charges GST. The lack of GST is one of the big attractions for Australians to get things from overseas, which is why some Australian companies (such as Harvey Norman) are suggesting their customers avoid GST by importing goods from their overseas opeartors.

I’m sure there will come a time when the Australian government lowers or eliminates the GST threshold for imported goods, but until that time, I still do not understand why Blurb has to charge GST on goods we import, regardless of whether they have a presence in Australia.

I suspect that the reasoning behind all of this is that Blurb are gearing up to do all their printing for Australian consumers within Australia.

I had recently been seriously considering ordering a second archival copy of all of the thirty-odd travel books I’ve done through Blurb, but now with GST added I have decided against it, unless there are some extremely tempting discount offers in the future.

Posted by
Maharg
Jan 10, 2012 4:32pm PDT
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Maharg
 

Blurb certainly  can’t charge for GST if they are not registered (Does not matter if they plan or are in the possess of registering, or even if they wish to back date GST registration). The law is plain and clear in this matter.

 

Posted by
hosegears6
Jan 10, 2012 4:40pm PDT
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hosegears6
 

I must agree with the other posters. I see no reason why we should be charged GST as our purchases are all done overseas, and not in Australia. Along with others I too am not pleased with the rising costs. Publishing and shipping have already gone up too much in the last 12 months and I feel that being charged GST may be the last straw.

Posted by
WalterKewley
Jan 12, 2012 12:16am PDT
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WalterKewley
 

Good news! The long-awaited Blurb ABN number is now available. We’re sorry for the delay—some paperwork had to be resubmitted, causing delays—but we now have our ABN. Anyone wishing to confirm its existence can do so here.


We began collecting GST on 10 November 2011, and our GST registration has been backdated to 9 Nov 2011 (as permitted by the ATO). All GST collected between 10th Nov and today will be filed/paid retroactively, as we explained previously.

Starting later this month, our ABN will automatically appear on all the order details page for all Australian orders. You can then print a copy for your records, via My Account>Order History.

For orders placed before then, anyone needing a GST-compliant invoice for Australian tax  purposes should request one via customer support.

Thanks for your patience while we awaited the ABN, and please let us know if you have any questions.

Regards,

Michael/Blurb Customer Support

Posted by
mikewhy
Jan 18, 2012 3:39pm PDT
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mikewhy Icon_staff
 

That’s great news, Michael. Blurb is now 100% legitmately the only overseas company that charges Australians GST. What’s the bad news?

Posted by
Maharg
Jan 18, 2012 5:55pm PDT
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Maharg
 

So now we get the worst of both worlds. Long delivery times and higher frieght charges associated with importing a product, plus 10% GST associated with buying locally. Thanks, Blurb!

Posted by
hylacola
Jan 20, 2012 8:02am PDT
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hylacola
 

I had a buyer contact me from Australia and was very upset, not only about the GST but also an "etax" on a download book with which he was not familiar. Can anyone explain the latter?

Posted by
Grubb
Jan 21, 2012 3:42pm PDT
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Grubb
 

“Good news! The long-awaited Blurb ABN number is now available….. We began collecting GST on 10 November 2011.” Michael/Blurb Customer Support

This is “Good news”? Michael, you have a very strange concept of “Good news.”

To me, telling your customers that you will be now adding on a 10% tax is NOT “Good news”.

As someone else pointed out, Blurb must be the only overseas company – and using the terms of the ATO – “without a physical presence” that is doing this. Having an ABN is not a “physical presence’.

What does the ATO have to say about all of this?

“Are all importations taxable?
Some goods imported into Australia are not subject to GST.
items 32A and 32B – ‘low-value goods’ or goods on which customs duty and taxes is $50 or less and which have a customs value of less than $1,000.”
http://www.ato.gov.au/businesses/content.aspx?doc=/content/13193.htm

I do not see how Blurb can legitimately add on AUD $27.34 GST on my last two purchases when the books are not printed in Australia and the only work done here on the books is by people such as myself that have done our own layouts. Furthermore, it would seem that the ATO ruling is that GST is not chargeable on Blurb books, at least at the current time, as the total price is well less than $1000 and the GST is also less than $50.

My understanding of the information on the ATO website is that if Blurb prints and then sends the books in bulk to an Australian-based Blurb office or representative and then forwards them on to the customer; or if Blurb prints and distributes the books from within Australia, then GST may be applicable. However it would appear that at the present GST is not applicable to Blurb books.

Furthermore I noticed that a while ago one could select prices (from Australia) in USD or AUD. If one chose USD, the price was significantly cheaper than in AUD. But now there is no choice – the Blurb website detects an Australian Internet address and only permits payment in USD – and at a very poor exchange rate and/or with a surcharge.

All Blurb seems to have done is to make themselves uncompetitive with other similar book companies.

If I hadn’t spent so much time on my recent book I would have gone elsewhere – like somewhere in Australia. There are Australian companies that have better quality printing, much better layout software and whom only charge slightly more than Blurb now does and who don’t feed their customers “Good news” rubbish.

Could someone please tell me (and I’m sure there’s a lot of other people out there as well who are interested in this) why Blurb has decided to do such a silly thing and under what ATO ruling is GST being charged by Blurb?

Posted by
Suzy_A
Jan 29, 2012 8:52am PDT
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Suzy_A
 

Hi Suzy, I checked it out in detail and yes, Blurb now have a registered office in Sydney, have an ABN and are registered for GST. Under ATO rules, they must issue a Tax Invoice for purchases over $AUD82.50, so dont forget to ask for yours.

Even though Blurb are now legitimate with the ABN situation, it is an amazingly foolish marketing move to make your prices 10% more expensive when they dont have to. Blurb go figure. It was a dumb move to register for an ABN when you dont produce the goods here and are just shipping from overseas. Many Australian companies are moving offshore to ship back to avoid GST legitimately. Blurb do the exact opposite. Astounding..!!!

Posted by
robinhas
Jan 30, 2012 4:41am PDT
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robinhas
 

Suzy, your link and the quote "goods on which customs duty and taxes is $50 or less and which have a customs value of less than $1,000" worried me a bit. Surely if GST is 10%, then anything worth over $500 will have taxes of over $50? So I did a little digging and found that your link applies to businesses that import, not individuals. The threshold is definitely still $1000 for individuals. See…

http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page5653.asp

http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page5549.asp

By the way I too am very disappointed in Blurb’s decision to collect GST, as I have already stated a number of times in these forums.

Posted by
Maharg
Jan 30, 2012 2:11pm PDT
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Maharg
 

Suzy_A

I’m interested in knowing which companies you were referring to:
“There are Australian companies that have better quality printing, much better layout software and whom only charge slightly more than Blurb now does”

Thanks

Posted by
pvann
Feb 10, 2012 10:07am PDT
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pvann
 

Hi Pvann,

OK, maybe I got a little bit carried away with ‘only charge slightly more’. Yes, despite now charging 10% GST, they are still quite a bit cheaper than their Australian competitors who provide similar quality products.

However while most other companies are trying to reduce their costs, it is very strange that Blurb seem to be trying to increase their costs for no apparent logical reason. Why charge GST – if indeed they actually do – when there is no need to?

I recently purchased some bicycle bits on-line – and every page had on it in big letters “VAT FREE FOR AUSTRALIAN CUSTOMERS.” VAT is the UK version of Australian GST.

OK, better quality? Yes, the print quality of Blurb on the Proline Pearl is really very good, but there are still a few defects here and there that I haven’t seen on some other premium book suppliers. For my latest photobook that I received a few days ago, there were several pages with blemishes.

The binding is really not up to scratch. The first photobook I ordered was a soft-cover standard paper. Within 5 minutes of opening it the binding was coming undone and pages were falling out. On my latest hard-cover 160 page Proline Pearl, the grey endsheets are loose and wrinkled and I will need to be careful so that more pages do not fall out. The other 120 page hard-cover Proline pearl I got seems OK.

The Booksmart software has only fairly recently had two-page spreads while this has been a standard feature on a lot of their competitors software for quite some time. The Booksmart 2-page spread is still very limited and I ended up having to doing several spreads manually anyway as the Booksmart 2-page spread layouts didn’t seem to allow what I wanted to do, like adding in text, inserts etc.

Changing book size (eg standard landscape to large landscape) doesn’t work. It’s probably easier and quicker to just start again from scratch.

I had almost finished a photobook, and I saved and closed and went to bed. The next evening I opened it up to do a final check and a lot of photos had moved slightly and I had to spend another evening correcting everything.

Back to financial matters, I wonder if the ‘GST’ that is being collected is really going to the ATO or is it just a ruse to pocket more money? On the last two books that I received, the invoice in the packing slip did not list GST (which I believe is required under ATO regulations when GST is charged) and the price listed was only 17% of what I actually paid. It all looks a bit dodgy to me.

In the meantime I will continue to use Blurb as they are still cheaper than similar quality Australian companies (although I’m not that happy about the poor binding and blemishes) and I will still use Booksmart, but I will also look into the Lightroom and InDesign plug-ins, although I don’t have either of those at the moment. I will also keep a look-out for other Australian and overseas photobook companies that offer a good price, good software, good quality and don’t do silly things like add on 10% for no apparent reason.

Posted by
Suzy_A
Feb 10, 2012 9:39pm PDT
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Suzy_A
 

Suzy_A

Thanks for your detailed response.  Like you, I’ll continue to use Blurb for the reasons you outlined; I do note that the three books I produced over last 12 months, two hard cover (Std Landscape & Square) and one soft cover (Square), are still bound well, although time will tell.

It would be good if we could find a comparable Aussie book printing company if nothing else to reduce the waiting time for delivery. I’ll periodically survey the options.

Cheers

Posted by
pvann
Feb 12, 2012 1:29pm PDT
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pvann
 

Good luck in finding a comparable self-publishing company in Australia. And the time from upload to delivery is always under a fortnight from Blurb in the US to regional Australia, occasionally as little as a week. Six months ago I’d have given Blurb a ten out of ten recommendation but now it’s probably eight. Top of the list of my frustrations is the GST issue. Other niggles are pages that ripple in moist air, and often poor customer service for web-related issues. But I’m still very impressed with overall quality, slick service, and swift replacements on rare occasions that faulty books are received. At the risk of sounding unpatriotic, I doubt whether any Australian company will ever be able to match this.

Posted by
Maharg
Feb 12, 2012 4:06pm PDT
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Maharg
 

Just pay in USD and issue solved. Works out cheaper for colour books anyways. I am currently designing a 160pp hard cover book w/ premium paper and saw the quote to print in AUD as $208.42 but as USD it is only US$184.42. Just change website to US at bottom right when checking quote out and buy in USD. Better for us AUstralians with high AUD now.

If the price was comparable I wouldn’t mind paying the GST as can claim all GST back through my business.

HTH

Posted by
sab
Feb 12, 2012 11:47pm PDT
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sab
 

Hi Maharg,

well two out of the three books that I have received so far have been faulty. As I wrote before, with the first one (softcover, standard paper) the pages started falling out the first time I opened it. With the second (hardcover, Proline Pearl) none have fallen out as yet – but the grey endsheets are only just hanging in there.

And Sab – how do you pay in USD? In the past there was an option in the top right to pay in USD but that seems to have disappeared. Whenever possible when I order things from other countries I almost always pay in the native currency as it usually works out a lot cheaper.

Ahhh! I see now! You now change it from ‘Blurb Australia’ to ‘Blurb United States’. It’s right down the bottom and was off the end of the screen.

So from AUD182.92 + 10% ‘GST’ = AUD201.21 down to USD160.42 = AUD149.20.

Thanks for the info.

Susan

Posted by
Suzy_A
Feb 13, 2012 6:16am PDT
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Suzy_A
 

Suzy, you’ll find some things are cheaper in US dollars and others cheaper in Australian dollars. I started another thread on this somewhere. For example, softcover black and white pocket size books are cheaper in Australian dollars up to a certain size, then cheaper in US dollars after that. Most or all colour photo books are cheaper in US dollars. And freight can be cheaper or dearer depending on how many books. Bizarre isn’t it?

You must be unlucky re pages falling out. Of the hundreds of books I’ve received from Blurb only one suffered this problem, and it was promptly replaced.

Posted by
Maharg
Feb 13, 2012 5:00pm PDT
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Maharg
 

MahargThanks for the simple solution to Blurb’s GST grab.I checked the USD prices quoted when I select ‘Blurb United States’ for a small square book I previously uploaded, converted that to AUD using a current USD transaction on my credit card, added the credit card "commission" and the result is AUD45.62 vs the AUD52.66 I was quoted on the ‘Blurb Australia’ site.The components are strange; the USD site book price is less in USD than the AUD site book price is in AUD (so when the USD converted to AUD, it is even lower!), but the reverse for the shipping even after the USD converted to AUD.  And of course the Blurb Australia site has the dreaded 10% GST added.  But all that matters is the lower final AUD price when using the ‘Blurb United States’ site for ordering.Now thanks to Maharg all this craziness about Blurb charging GST is negated; for my low ordering volume it is the principle that matters rather than the dollars.BTW, looked at a few pages of one of your books and now looking forward to spending more time looking at more.

 

Posted by
pvann
Feb 14, 2012 11:04pm PDT
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pvann
 

Grr… Just ordered my 160 page premium paper book through the US site (as chosen at bottom right of screen) and paid in US dollars and STILL got charged the GST 10% tax and that charge is in US dollars! How the heck does that work? I shouldn’t be charged a GST if paying in a foreign currency. I have bought many many things from overseas in the past (including a few books from here) and have purchased in many different foreign currencies and have NEVER been charged a GST on foreign currency purchases. This is not right and needs to be refunded. I am contacting the help line now.

Posted by
sab
Feb 15, 2012 4:34pm PDT
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sab
 

This is my take on it…

Instead of getting legal advice in Australia, Blurb asked an accountancy firm. If the advice that firm provided was wrong, it would have been possible to pursue a legal claim against the adviser. Not surprisingly, the advice was to charge GST. By paying GST, Blurb will never be pursued by the ATO and never make a claim against the adviser. On the other hand, if Blurb had sought legal advice, a franker opinion about GST would probably have been provided since, I think, the comeback on legal advice is much more limited. So, Blurb was smart and the accountancy adviser did as predicted.

Having said that, the intention of the GST is clearly that it apply to goods coming in from overseas. There is an administrative ‘loophole’ related to not processing imports worth less than $1,000. It seems, like most other overseas suppliers including those I deal with that have an physical presence in Australia, Blurb could have taken advantage of this and not charged GST. It then would have been up to customs to determine if GST was to apply when the goods came in.

By doing what it has done, Blurb has put itself first (and any small risk it may have faced about not collecting GST) instead of its customers. Not a good look.

BTW, I like Blurb’s product and will stick with them for now, in spite of my dim view of their behaviour on this one.

Glenn

Posted by
glenn_oz
Jun 25, 2012 3:49pm PDT
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glenn_oz
 

Hi all,

For those just joining and curious why Blurb charges GST see my earlier post here.
http://forums.blurb.com/forums/7/topics/12507#posts-46559

As the GST number has been available for some time I am going to lock this thread. Feel free to contact us at www.blurb.com/help should you have questions about our GST number that are not answered in my posts above.

Regards,

Michael
Blurb Customer Support

Posted by
mikewhy
Jun 26, 2012 7:45am PDT
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mikewhy Icon_staff