Technically at midnight on 30 September 2010 all sales by GST registered businesses have to be accounted for at the new 15% GST rate.
But what do you do in practice? Is it simply a matter of flicking a switch and hey presto! all prices are updated? I doubt it.
Pubs, restaurants, casinos, hotels, supermarkets, service stations, fast food outlets, telecommunication companies, pay per view television and others operating 24 hours will be thinking about this.
For example, if you’re in a restaurant on the evening of 30 September and make it a big night you’d be wise to ask for the bill before midnight because technically come midnight an extra 2.5% will go on it even though you ate before midnight.
I guess some retailers might consider closing up at midnight for a few hours to allow them to adjust prices and systems. It’s a Thursday night so maybe that’s possible. Others might decide to wait until the weekend to adjust prices and simply account for GST at the new rate on everything from 1 October. Essentially they’ll be absorbing the increase for a day or so.
Hopefully the specially appointed GST Advisory Panel provides some guidance on these things. They could, for example, take a lead from the UK where the Customs and Excise Department granted a special concession to pubs and mobile phone companies and some other retailers open through midnight when their GST rate increased earlier this year. Those granted the concession were allowed to continue using the old rate until 6am the next day or the end of the trading session.