A former business owner has spoken out about
A former business owner has spoken out about "ingrained and entrenched” dishonest practices among tradespeople in the Whitsundays. AAP/JOEL CARRETT

Is the dishonest charging of GST a problem?

A FORMER business owner and tradeswoman has spoken out about what she has described as an "ingrained and entrenched” practice among tradespeople in the Whitsundays to "dishonestly” omit the GST cost from a client's initial quote.

However, local companies are at odds with a recent assessment of the situation.

Patricia Laws, a retired owner of four businesses in Central Queensland and mechanical engineer (fitter diesel) now living in the Whitsundays, said customers should call the ATO if they believed they had been "ripped off”.

"There seems to be little in the way of accountability, but I am speaking up because customers need to be aware,” Ms Laws said.

She said she wanted to help businesses understand the GST rules so errors weren't made, and to inform the public of their consumer rights.

"Because it's quite clear many tradespeople have not kept abreast of the changes. And it's not fair to the ones who are doing the right thing.”

Ms Laws said since Cyclone Debbie she had been rebuilding her house and had received quotes that did not include GST from "at least five to 10 tradespeople”, only to be told she owed the GST amount at payment.

"It's not a one-off or a two-off, it's all of the tradespeople I've dealt with. And I've spoken to other people having the same problem,” she said.

She said it was mostly a problem in construction, including machinery, concreting and earth works.

"Because it's so widespread, I don't think the locals have kept up with the legislation. If it's an honest mistake, you can understand it. So from here on in, they need to do some research,” she said.

In 2008/09, Parliament passed legislation ensuring that pricing from B2C (business-to-consumer) was "all inclusive” and included GST, making it illegal to quote a price and say "plus GST”.

The ACCC has said quotes should be accurate and not misleading.

Whitsunday Chamber of Commerce president Allan Milostic said this week he was not aware of a widespread practice of "dishonest” GST pricing on quotes.

"It's common knowledge that the final invoice always includes the GST if that's applicable,” Mr Milostic said.

"But, clearly, if someone is doing it deliberately they are breaching laws.”