Australia drafts legislation to level playing field in online accommodation bookings

At the end of July 2018, the government released draft regulation and explanatory memorandum with the aim to extend the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to ensure that offshore sellers of hotel accommodation in Australia calculate their GST turnover in the same way as local sellers from 1 July 2019.
It amends the GST Act to require offshore suppliers of rights or options to use commercial accommodation in Australia to include these supplies in a GST return if such offshore suppliers equals or exceeds the $75.000 registration turnover threshold.
Applying the law if passed, would require analysis of the principal versus agent condition of the offshore supplier. The amendments of the law apply to Whole-sale level of the market where the wholesaler acquire title (right or option to use accommodation and on-sells those rights to a guest) so will seem to be affecting the big on-line bed-banks but would not apply to OTAs (online travel agencies) or agencies acting on behalf of the hotel. Expected coming into force would be July 1st, 2019.

DET3 comments
When talking about digital economy taxation, the Level the Playing Field discussion can have several dimensions. In this case is Foreign to local players dimension at indirect taxation level; this is draft proposal by now, but the amendments aim to ensure neutrality in the GST treatment of Australian hotel and similar accommodation regardless of whether the right to use the accommodation is purchased directly through an Australian supplier or from an offshore supplier.

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