New TRS rules? Goods no longer included in cap?

robbo135

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Mar 16, 2017
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So after being stuck in Fortress Australia for last 2 years I've managed to finally get out of the country with a short trip to Singapore. At the airport, I claimed the GST refund on a mobile phone worth $850 and was on my merry way. I then had a careful look at the TRS receipt and it looks like any TRS goods are not included in your incoming passenger concession:

"If TRS goods return to Australia they must be declared and the full refund paid back. TRS goods are not included in your passenger concession. Penalties apply to undeclared goods"

The ABF TRS site seems to confirm this wording


The officer who processed my claim at the airport made no mention of this. It looks like TRS for Australians returning with the original goods claimed is no longer possible, am I missing anything or has someone who has claimed TRSand returned recently got any experiences to share?
 
So after being stuck in Fortress Australia for last 2 years I've managed to finally get out of the country with a short trip to Singapore. At the airport, I claimed the GST refund on a mobile phone worth $850 and was on my merry way. I then had a careful look at the TRS receipt and it looks like any TRS goods are not included in your incoming passenger concession:

"If TRS goods return to Australia they must be declared and the full refund paid back. TRS goods are not included in your passenger concession. Penalties apply to undeclared goods"

The ABF TRS site seems to confirm this wording


The officer who processed my claim at the airport made no mention of this. It looks like TRS for Australians returning with the original goods claimed is no longer possible, am I missing anything or has someone who has claimed TRSand returned recently got any experiences to share?

I think that this is just slightly clumsy wording. You do not need to declare these goods if they fall under your TOTAL $900 concession and as such no GST would be payable. This is as per the incoming Passenger Card and I assume the new electronic one. If you exceed the $900 then the full GST would have to be repaid. This is the same as it has been for a number of years.

Of course this is only my opinion. Only Border Force can give you a firm ruling.
 
When returning its the current value of the good that matters not the purchase price before departing. As oon as you use a phone or computer it is used and therefore of lower value ;)
 
When returning its the current value of the good that matters not the purchase price before departing. As oon as you use a phone or computer it is used and therefore of lower value ;)
It used to be 20% after first use but I am not sure what they use today.
 
The officer who processed my claim at the airport made no mention of this. It looks like TRS for Australians returning with the original goods claimed is no longer possible, am I missing anything or has someone who has claimed TRSand returned recently got any experiences to share?

You're not missing anything - unfortunately, the rules have in fact changed. You're now required to declare any goods for which you claimed TRS if bringing them back into Australia, and pay the tax back on them.

This change wasn't publicised by the Australian Border Force but I did some digging and as far as I can tell, their website was updated with the new rule around 28 September 2021.

 
That does seem odd since we’ve always been able to buy local DF and bring it back either within your limit or declare it. Even before TRS was introduced.

A work around would be to go a DF store (if they still exist?) and do the old sealed bag routine? Or purchase at the airport….

Unfortunately, DF shops were never particularly price competitive (compared to TRS where you can buy from just about anywhere) but for something like an iPhone it could work. But you don’t get to set it up and use before you travel - the other big advantage of TRS.
 
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Interesting. Was comparing between buying something here or overseas. Thanks for the update. Wouldn't have picked that up. Without the concession, it's cheaper overseas. I can see this will impact local retailers to some degree, but I guess it was a loophole before and therefore not the intent of the concession.
 
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Possibly I will sell the duty free to a fellow traveller, who happens to be on the same return flight prior to arrival, but it will be interesting to see the cost of enforcing this, against the GST lost. In my last 6 overseas trips I have yet to see a baggage checker from customs except for the card collectors. And with no more cards, it will only be the traffic wardens at the exit barriers
 
Possibly I will sell the duty free to a fellow traveller, who happens to be on the same return flight prior to arrival, but it will be interesting to see the cost of enforcing this, against the GST lost. In my last 6 overseas trips I have yet to see a baggage checker from customs except for the card collectors. And with no more cards, it will only be the traffic wardens at the exit barriers
There are definitely still cards.
 
but I guess it was a loophole before and therefore not the intent of the concession.
I thought the reasoning was so that Australians spent their duty free allowance in Australia rather than overseas. I mean it will now ultimately hurt Australian retail. Whether its by much i'm not sure, but I'll certainly now look to buy overseas on my trips instead of buying from an Australian store and taking OS.
 
Nice way to disincentivise going to local stores to get your GST exemption (and also incentivising purchases over the limit overseas and not declaring them on the way back in)...

What a silly decision.
 
On the Border Security show they had people who bought expensive watches and computers duty free in Australia and the person was then ABF tagged and checked on their return to see if they had bought the goods back in. If they declared the goods they received the $900 concession and paid duty on the balance after depreciation. If they had the goods but had not declared them then full duty and the penalty duty was charged. Now they will have to tag everyone who claims under TRS on goods they take out, which is not going to work. So no Australian resident will buy before they depart, unless its from a duty free store, eliminating the choice and switching the profits to the foreign owned duty free outlets. (There is a huge new DF store opening shortly in Sydney CBD) I would expect work arounds are already being developed, such as the one suggested up thread.
 
On the Border Security show they had people who bought expensive watches and computers duty free in Australia and the person was then ABF tagged and checked on their return to see if they had bought the goods back in. If they declared the goods they received the $900 concession and paid duty on the balance after depreciation. If they had the goods but had not declared them then full duty and the penalty duty was charged. Now they will have to tag everyone who claims under TRS on goods they take out, which is not going to work. So no Australian resident will buy before they depart, unless its from a duty free store, eliminating the choice and switching the profits to the foreign owned duty free outlets. (There is a huge new DF store opening shortly in Sydney CBD) I would expect work arounds are already being developed, such as the one suggested up thread.
from what ive heard if you do a big trs they will note it on your record/passport, not sure whether that = guaranteed to be checked, but its for really expensive items

that being said, if you are travelling as a couple, can one person take it out and the other person bring it back in?
 
The website might have changed but I believe it was always a requirement to declare good you bring back over the $900, its just that no one ever checked unless you were flagged as having taken high value items out.

Duty free shops even after the GST rebate are more expensive that buying your new phone or headphones at JB hifi when on sale. So all this change achieves is that travelling Aussies will spend even more overseas, it certainly wont drive business to expensive duty free stores.

I will check out how they are policing the new process on my April trip before deciding if it is worth claiming any TRS on my big trip. I want to see how they are accounting for depreciation on returning goods.
 
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I attempted to make use of this for a new iPad I'd purchased a few years ago. I've never seen a slower moving queue (worse than the old RTA queues of years past). I've never seen slower moving or more disinterested staff working behind a counter. Waited about 30min or so and the queue had barely budged so I gave up. If I'd stayed, I think I'd still be there..
 
from what ive heard if you do a big trs they will note it on your record/passport, not sure whether that = guaranteed to be checked, but its for really expensive items

that being said, if you are travelling as a couple, can one person take it out and the other person bring it back in?
Couples can combine their limits but the issue seems to be the new wording specific to TRS.

If you buy at the airport (or a landslide DF store), presumably you can still use the combined limit.
 
I attempted to make use of this for a new iPad I'd purchased a few years ago. I've never seen a slower moving queue (worse than the old RTA queues of years past). I've never seen slower moving or more disinterested staff working behind a counter. Waited about 30min or so and the queue had barely budged so I gave up. If I'd stayed, I think I'd still be there..
It’s much better now with the app and QR codes etc
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The website might have changed but I believe it was always a requirement to declare good you bring back over the $900, its just that no one ever checked unless you were flagged as having taken high value items out.
But now you must declare *any* items bought back (even if you’re under your $900 limit)!
 
I attempted to make use of this for a new iPad I'd purchased a few years ago. I've never seen a slower moving queue (worse than the old RTA queues of years past). I've never seen slower moving or more disinterested staff working behind a counter. Waited about 30min or so and the queue had barely budged so I gave up. If I'd stayed, I think I'd still be there..
i sort of dont blame them, its not a pleasant job,
when ive queued, the people around me, many of them didnt speak english so it was hard communication,
plus most were getting their claims rejected because the totals werent enough, or the tax invoice didnt have a gst component or just didnt qualify

and then telling the customer that their claim was being rejected wasnt pleasant either, a lot of angry people

and possibly some jealousy that people were claiming $10,000 watches/jewellery?
 
Another own goal by Border Farce. After punishing as much of the economy as they could during Covid, it seems that the bureaucracy want to get one last kick in.
That's fine, I simply won't purchase the goods in Australia anymore and, rather, purchase them overseas.
How on earth can incentivising Australians to purchase overseas instead of in Australia be good for anyone.
Only in the Canberra Bubble!
 
Yeah, agree with the above sentiment, govt just looking for more ways to punish the private/productive economy. And the more ridiculous and unfair the laws become, the more inclined people are to break the laws. Which is not good for society in the long term.
 

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