ATO data-matching: ride sharing

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Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, many routine things have slipped under the radar, one of which is the various data-matching programs still going on at the ATO. One of the more significant data-matching programs currently occurring is on ride sourcing or ride sharing. 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 payment or fare. Think Uber, Lyft or many other ridesharing apps.

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 include: 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, bet 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, lodgement, reporting and payment). While 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. The ATO notes that the data may also be used as part of methodologies by which it selects taxpayers for compliance activities.

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 identifications of the facilitators/providers working with the ATO has the potential to cause commercial disadvantage given the immaturity of the industry and evolving nature of the market. As such, the ATO says it is adopting a principles-based approach to ensure fairness and transparency. New and existing ride sourcing facilitators will also be reviewed periodically against the eligibility criteria, and if required, will be included in the program. In addition, any data collected will not be used to initiate automated action or activities.
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