Australian Uber drivers are about to be dropped into a big data matching scheme that helps the ATO catch out individuals and businesses failing to pay their fair share of tax.
The Australian Taxation Office revealed it will use its powers to obtain the details of all payments made by “ride sourcing facilitators” like Uber to drivers for the 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 years.
Companies like Uber provide a booking platform and payments gateway that enables their ride-sharing scheme, with their cut of the fare then passed on to owner-drivers.
In order to match this income against what has been reported by Uber drivers, the ATO’s compliance team plans to get hold of payee account names, account numbers, BSBs, dates and values of all payments of between 10,000 and 15,000 people.
It has hinted it will take a soft approach to non-compliance in the first instance.
“The data acquired will be electronically matched with certain sections of ATO data holdings to identify taxpayers that can be provided with tailored information to help them meet their tax obligations, or to ensure compliance with taxation law,” it said in a public gazettal of the scheme.
Uber drivers aren’t the first industry group to be targeted by the ATO’s data matching operation. Already this year it has detailed its intention to suck up eBay sales records and migrant and migration sponsor income data to compare against its records. It has been running the data matching scheme since 2007-08.
However, Uber and its peers have attracted particular attention from the ATO this tax season. In August the agency sent a missive to ride-sharing operators insisting they are obliged to charge GST - despite a legal challenge launched by Uber insisting it falls outside the parameters of the tax.
The ATO said it will also use the gathered information to model patterns of behaviour that will inform strategies to combat tax avoidance in the growing ride-share sector.