Published in The Australian, July 27, 2015
The Australian Taxi Industry Association has denied claims from ride-sharing operator Uber that it was given too much say by the Tax Office in new rules that would ensure Uber drivers charge GST.
ATIA chief executive Blair Davies said Uber was itself consulted about the new rule and successfully lobbied to have the start back moved by a month, from July 1 to next Saturday.
He said Uber’s position on the GST rule was “crazy”.
“All it does is level up the playing field,” he said.
He called on state governments to “stop pandering to Uber” and follow the ATO’s lead by applying existing laws to the US company.
“We don’t think Uber should be treated as a golden child or something different,” he said.
In a letter to Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan, released to media on Friday, Uber’s director of public policy Brad Kitschke slammed “the level of irregular consultation and collaboration” between the ATO and the ATIA.
Mr Davies said the ATO consulted with the ATIA because the issue related to people providing taxi services.
“It was a completely natural thing for them to do,” he said.
Most businesses only have to charge GST once their gross revenue exceeds $75,000 a year.
However, taxis are a special category and must charge GST on every single dollar in fares.
“The ATIA wrote to the ATO back in May of 2014 asking for the ATO to level the playing field,” Mr Davies said.
“In that sense the ATO didn’t rush to a position — they took a considered position.
“It was my understanding that Uber were directly engaged in conversations with the ATO, as were some of the other entities involved.
“Uber just want to complain about stuff that makes no sense.”
Asked about Mr Davies’s allegations, an Uber spokeswoman responded with a statement that did not address all of the issues.
Mr Davies said any driver for Uber’s unlicensed entry-level service UberX who was “making a decent income” would already be bringing in gross revenue of more than $75,000 and should already be registered for GST under existing rules”.
“This just means that everybody’s got to,” Mr Davies said. “From Uber’s point of view the inconvenient thing is that they’ve now got to factor GST into their pricing.
“What we’ve been saying … is, don’t protect the taxi industry … let us play on the same field with the same rules as everyone else.”
Mr Davies said the next big issue would be insurance, adding that in Canberra compulsory third party cost $9500 while a private car could cost as little as $600. “If you’re providing a taxi service, let everybody pay those same amounts.”