ATO details GST; Telstra under ACCC scrutiny

Telecommunications carriers will charge a GST on all phone calls -- local, STD, mobile and international roaming -- and on services including internet access, line rental, and maintenance, according to the ATO.

Telecommunications products such as televisions and phones will also be hit by the GST, Michael Hardy, ATO's acting assistant commissioner for GST, said.

However, retail prices will drop, with sales tax ranging from 5 to 32 per cent cut from all telco products.

"Special provisions" will apply to phone cards for pay phones and mobile phones, said Hardy. GST will be charged upon "redemption of the card", not on the calls from them.

Telcos will not charge the disabled a GST on any calls or on certain disability products, said Hardy. He attributed the concession to "health" factors and the general "incapacity" of this group to foot higher bills.

Business customers can claim telco-related GST charges that they make to customers or incur in their day-to-day operations, Hardy said.

Almost every Telstra service, excluding most disability products, will include a GST, John Gillman, Telstra's GST communications manager, said.

Despite accusations from One.Tel on Wednesday that the ACCC published misleading details on Telstra's local calls, stating they were GST-free, Gillman insisted that Telstra was "confident" all of its prices were "correct" and in line with ACCC guidelines.

However, the ACCC admitted it was "concerned" about the GST price hike on "some" Telstra services.

An ACCC spokeswoman confirmed today that Telstra's Interconnect and internet access price increases under the GST may be investigated. She added that the scrutiny was in no way in support of One.Tel's outcry against Telstra this week.

The spokeswoman would not disclose the names of other companies, IT or not, that are facing investigation for non-regulatory GST price hikes.

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