The government are making steps to address the underreporting in the sharing-economy sector. Under new proposed legislation, sharing-economy platforms including Uber, Airbnb, Airtassker, Deliveroo, Uber Eats, CarNextDoor and others may be required to share data about their users to the ATO. The model put forward by Treasury was in response to a Black Economy Taskforce recommendation and would mean sharing-economy platforms would share data with the ATO which would then be pre-filled into the relevant individual’s tax return – similar to the current model for employer’s reporting wages and bank reporting interest received.
In 2017 Australia’s sharing economy was valued at $15.1 billion and an estimated 10.8 Australians were assumed to have earned extra money in the industry between July and December 2017. Assistant commissioner Kath Anderson said that “No matter how little you earn you must declare the income and cannot avoid tax by calling it a hobby.” Tony Greco, general manager of technical policy at the Institute of Public Accountants and a member of the Black Economy Taskforce says “what we’re trying to do here is blow away myths you don’t have to pay tax and force compliance.” He says it is hard to put a number on how much tax is being missed by believes it is “definitely a big number.”
Assistant Minister for Treasury and Finance, Senator Zed Seselja, said “More and more Australians are making use of the greater choice provided by platforms like Uber and Airbnb, leading to significant growth in the sharing economy .... But as it grows, there is a risk that some individuals are not reporting their full income and avoiding the right amount of tax. The Government is working with the sector on the best way to fix this issue.”
Car sharing platform CarNextDoor have welcomed the proposed changed stating “We think it’s great that the ATO is planning on working with the sharing platforms to make tax time easier for sharers. We give members a summary each year to help them do their tax, but it could make it even easier for people if the ATO were able to pre-fill the earnings information.” Spacer.com.au and Sharing Hub chief executive Mike Rosenbaum also welcomed the changes. In a statement he said “Our member companies regularly advise users to seek advice from tax professionals and to declare their income.”