The inevitable has happened: Steam prices look set to rise in Australia. A new tax on 'intangible' digitally imported goods will be introduced in the 2015 budget, Australian federal treasurer Joe Hockey confirmed today.
That means the 10% increase on Steam prices we reported last week is almost certainly going to happen, though details on specific companies to be targeted have yet to be released. Dubbed the 'Netflix tax', the tax applies to companies selling digital goods or services into Australia from abroad.
"It is plainly unfair that a supplier of digital products into Australia is not charging the GST whilst someone locally has to charge the GST," the treasurer said today, via ABC.
"When the GST legislation was originally drafted, it did not anticipate the massive growth in the supply of digital goods like movie downloads, games and e-books from overseas."
That's reasonable enough, but in the case of PC gaming there's no locally operated competition that can hold a torch to Steam. Meanwhile, it's unlikely the tax will affect all online outlets: the proliferation of lesser retailers selling Steam keys is something the Australian Tax Office is unlikely to get a handle on.
The tax is expected to make $350 million over the next four years, according to Hockey. It's unlikely to meet with much resistance from the opposition Labor party either: Labor's treasury spokesperson Chris Bowen criticised the government for its failure to introduce similar measures to protect local retailers.
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Shaun Prescott is the Australian editor of PC Gamer. With over ten years experience covering the games industry, his work has appeared on GamesRadar+, TechRadar, The Guardian, PLAY Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, and more. Specific interests include indie games, obscure Metroidvanias, speedrunning, experimental games and FPSs. He thinks Lulu by Metallica and Lou Reed is an all-time classic that will receive its due critical reappraisal one day.