ATO is data-matching ride sharing information with personal tax returns
While the Coronavirus pandemic has put many things on hold, it hasn’t stopped the ATO from going ahead with its data-matching programs.
One of the more significant programs that have slipped under the radar due to the pandemic is the ride sourcing or ride sharing program.
Ride sourcing or ride sharing is any ongoing arrangement where you make a car available for public hire to passengers through a third-party digital platform for a payment or fare. If you drive for Uber, Lyft or many other ridesharing apps, you may be affected.
Under this program, the ATO will be acquiring data from ride sourcing facilitators to identify individuals providing these services for the 2019-20 to 2021-22 financial years. The data that will be collected includes:
- identification details – driver identifier, ABN, driver name, birth date, mobile phone number, email address, address;
- transaction details – bank account details, aggregated payment details (gross fares, net amount paid to driver, and all other income to which GST may or may not apply to) of all payments received in the relevant period.
It is expected that records relating to approximately 250,000 individuals will be obtained in each financial year. The data acquired will then be matched to certain sections of ATO data holdings to identify individuals. These individuals may then be provided tailored information to help them meet their tax and super obligations, or to ensure compliance with tax law (including registration, lodgment, reporting and payment).
One of the main objectives of the data-matching program is to promote voluntary compliance and increase community confidence in the integrity of the tax and super system. However, the ATO notes that the data may also be used as part of methodologies by which it selects taxpayers for compliance activities.
Identification of ride sourcing facilitators
It is important to note that while the ATO is obtaining data from various ride sourcing facilitators, none of the facilitators are named. It says identification of the facilitators/providers working with the ATO has the potential to cause commercial disadvantage given the immaturity of the industry and the evolving nature of the market. As such, the ATO says it is adopting a principles-based approach to ensure fairness and transparency using the following criteria:
- data owner or its subsidiary operates a business in Australia that is governed by Australian law;
- data owner or its subsidiary provides ride sourcing facilitation services for drivers;
- data owner or its subsidiary provided these facilities in the years in focus;
- where the client base of a data owner or its subsidiary does not present an omitted income risk or the administrative or financial cost of collecting the data exceeds the benefit the data may provide, the data owner or its subsidiary may be excluded from the program.
According to the ATO, new and existing ride sourcing facilitators will be reviewed periodically against the eligibility criteria, and if required, will be included in the data matching program. In addition, any data collected will not be used to initiate automated action or activities.
What to do now?
If you provide ride sharing services and are not sure whether you’ve been compliant with your tax obligations such as lodgment and payment, we can help.
We can also help you understand any GST registration and reporting obligations you may have. Contact us today.
Disclaimer: The information on this page is for general information purposes only and is not specific to any particular person or situation. There are many factors that may affect your particular circumstances. We advise that you contact Mathews Tax Lawyers before making any decisions.