How about a fixed drop box for tourist tax refunds?

Peter Terlato 29 July 2016

Tax refund destination airport

The "30 minute rule" just isn't working.

The government's national dispute resolution body, the Commonwealth Ombudsman, has put forward recommendations aimed at improving the efficiency and likelihood of departing tourists obtaining GST refunds.

The office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman released the findings of its report into the Department of Immigration and Border Protection's Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS).

Australian and overseas passengers leaving the country are permitted to claim back the GST and Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) on goods purchased in Australia.

The report focused on complaints surrounding the application of the "30 minute rule", whereby passengers intending to claim a Goods and Services Tax (GST) refund must show up at the airport's TRS counter at least 30 minutes prior to their flight's scheduled departure time.

Acting Commonwealth Ombudsman Richard Glenn says his office received multiple complaints from people who claim they were unable to obtain a refund, despite the implementation of this rule.

"In our investigation, it became apparent that the '30 minute rule' is not supported by legislation," Glenn says.

"We also found that the ad hoc arrangements intended to be put in place when there was a high volume of passengers to process, were at times not deployed when they should have been."

One of these temporary measures involve the use of a drop box, where claims can be lodged and then processed at a later time.

Here's what the Ombudsman recommends:

  • As an interim measure, the department takes all reasonable steps to ensure that travellers who wish to claim a TRS refund are able to do so in a way that is consistent with the law;
  • The department considers the permanent use of a drop box service at TRS facilities at all international points of departure, and takes all necessary steps to ensure the appropriate regulations are in place.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has agreed to implement these recommendations.

Use our simple guide to understand how the TRS works to maximise your returns and avoid delays.

Picture: Shutterstock

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