Amazon to block Australians from global websites due to tax

CANBERRA, Australia — Amazon will block Australians from buying from its international e-commerce websites and restrict them to a smaller local platform from July in response to new tax rules that consumer advocates fear will reduce the range of choice for customers in Australia.

Shoppers visiting the U.S. store Amazon.com will be redirected to the Australian version, Amazon.com.au, from July 1 when Australia starts applying new tax rules, Amazon said in a statement on Friday.

From that date, Australia will impose a 10 percent consumption tax on online retailers for goods bought from overseas sites and shipped to Australia. The tax currently only applies to purchases above AU$1,000 ($757).

Amazon said it regretted the change which it blamed on the new tax rules.

"While we regret any inconvenience this may cause customers, we have had to assess the workability of the legislation as a global business with multiple international sites," Amazon said. "This will allow us to provide our customers with continued access to international selection and remain compliant with the law."

The Australian Amazon site provides access to the more than 60 million products. Amazon offers 480 million products in the United States.

Treasurer Scott Morrison ruled out doing any "special deal" for the second biggest company in the world run by the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos.

Morrison doubted Amazon had difficulty with Australian taxes when it had the technology to cope with different tax regimes in Britain and Canada.

"It's disappointing that Amazon would take this out on consumers in Australia, but that's their commercial decision," Morrison told reporters. "If someone takes their bat and ball and goes home, well, Australians will form a view about that."

The government would not back down on the new tax rules, which would raise AU$300 million a year, Morrison said.

Consumer campaigner Christopher Zinn said Australian shoppers will notice a significant reduction in options when browsing the internet for goods.

"Online shopping has put the world at your fingertips but now that world has shrunk," Zinn told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Another U.S. online retailer, eBay, said it was changing its global systems so that Australian shoppers could still buy items from anywhere in the world.

"We won't block Aussie buyers, redirect them or require them to pretend they are located overseas. Australians will continue to be able to buy from any eBay site," eBay said in a statement.

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