Plans to target GST-free online shopping welcomed

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David Elliott, business development director of Voisins, has spoken out in support of Treasury Minister Susie Pinel after she announced she was considering reducing the amount at which individuals start paying tax on imported goods from £240.

Deputy Pinel told the States Assembly that she might unveil plans to cut the de minimis level in this year’s Budget following ‘furious’ complaints from retailers about the damage internet shopping was causing the high street.

She would not be drawn on how much she was considering to cut the level by.

Mr Elliott said cutting the threshhold on imported goods was a ‘huge step in the right direction’ in helping Jersey retailers.

‘It is one of the big things I get all the time – the unfair discount people get from shopping online,’ he said.

‘A number of our members tell me that people will come into their shop but then buy the product online. Effectively a lot of shops in St Helier are store houses.’

Although the Jersey Consumer Council said yesterday that reducing the de minimis level would only be a ‘sticking plaster’ to the problems facing the high street, Mr Elliott disagreed.

And he stressed that the States would be able to invest the GST it collected from Islanders’ online shopping into public works.

‘If you work out all the GST that has been lost, to me it is a no-brainer. We will be right behind her [Deputy Pinel] on this.’

Mr Elliott said the Jersey Retail Association had recently met Scrutiny to discuss the issues Island retailers were currently facing and hoped the panel would take their comments on board.

‘We reminded the panel that a scrutiny panel in 2014 recommended an immediate review of the de minimis level,’ he said. ‘That has not yet happened.

‘It is such a big thing for us. We’re all upset by it, as was the case four to five years ago. Hopefully something will happen now.’

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