Uber drivers complain about ATO’s approach to gig economy

Uber drivers caught by a GST ruling are among those complaining about the tax office’s treatment of workers in the sharing economy.

“We have been approached by a number of taxpayers expressing concern about the ATO’s approach to the gig economy as it has affected them personally,” the Inspector-General of Taxation, Ali Noroozi, told an International Conference on Tax Administration held in Sydney on Thursday.

As well as Uber drivers hit with backdated GST payments, there had been complaints from stakeholders about ATO delays or refusals to issue ABNs where there was a question about whether the person was in fact carrying on a business.

“They may not be carrying on an enterprise in the strict sense, however, when faced with mandatory requirements by platforms such as Deliveroo and Foodora to hold an ABN before they are able to commence work, the taxpayer is invidiously caught between two conflicting requirements,” Mr Noroozi said.

His office would investigate each case but he warned it might be that the “law does not permit the desired outcome” for the taxpayer.

Mr Noroozi warned the ATO that its communication with taxpayers needed to be crystal clear – especially when it was changing the law and there were potentially adverse tax consequences.

Uber and the ATO were at odds for months over whether its drivers should pay GSTUber mounted a court challenge to the ATO’s 2015 decision that people providing ride-sharing services must register for GST – regardless of their turnover – or risk being caught under tax laws. However, it lost the case, and the ATO has since been writing to Uber drivers warning them that they needed to register for the GST. Read more

Nassim Khadem – Brisbane Tines – 6 April 2018