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Online marketplaces

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An online marketplace is an electronic platform, like a website, app or internet portal, that overseas businesses use to market and sell their goods and services. If customers buy low-value goods from offshore merchants through your website, you operate an online marketplace. 

Operators of non-electronic marketplacescan apply to the Commissioner to register and return GST on behalf of underlying suppliers.

What an online marketplace is not

You are not operating an online marketplace if you only

  • provide a carriage service (such as those operated by internet service providers and telecommunication companies)
  • provide access to a payment system or processing payments
  • provide advertising that makes customers aware of products and links them to a merchant's website.

Some online marketplaces may provide a service of selling ‘face value’ vouchers (such as a gift voucher that can be used for a choice of items up to a particular value). However, an electronic communication service provider will not be considered to operate an online marketplace just because it sells face value vouchers.

When an online marketplace is responsible for GST

You will generally be responsible for GST on a sale made by a merchant through your platform if:

  • you are registered or required to be registered for GST
  • it is a sale of low value goods by a non-resident merchant to a consumer
  • either you or the merchant help get the goods to New Zealand.

If you do not do any of these, you need an agreement between you and the merchant that the merchant is responsible for the GST. The documentation given to the customer must identify the merchant as the supplier and not you.

If neither of these requirements are met, you will be responsible for returning GST on supplies made by the merchant through your platform.

Accounting for your GST

You will need to count these sales, plus any other sales you make that GST applies to towards your GST turnover. If your turnover meets the NZ$60,000 threshold in a 12-month period, you will need to register and return GST on these sales.

Broadly, your GST turnover is your gross consumer sales revenue that GST applies to from supplies made in your business to consumers in New Zealand. Once you register, you will need to work with your merchants to make sure certain information is given to customers and included on customs documents.

The merchant is not responsible for any GST payable on the sale.

LiveNZ

Tide operates an online marketplace that allows consumers to buy goods from merchants.

Tide is registered for GST in New Zealand, as they meet the NZ$60,000 threshold.  They determine that they are responsible for GST on the sales of low-value goods made to consumers through their website.

Ellie uses Tide's website to buy a tablet device from All Co, a merchant in China, for NZ$805 including GST. All Co arranges for the tablet device to be shipped to New Zealand.

Tide is treated as the supplier for GST purposes.  They return GST of NZ$105 on the sale to Inland Revenue in their GST return.

As Tide is treated as the supplier for GST purposes, All Co does not:

  • return GST to Inland Revenue on the sale
  • count the sale when determining if they are required to register.