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ATO ride-sourcing data-matching program extended


Continuing on from its theme of closing the tax gap of individuals for budget repair, the ATO has notified the public of the extension of an existing data-matching program on ride-sourcing. The program was previously designed to run from the 2015–2016 to the 2021–2022 financial years, capturing information from individuals engaged in providing ride-sourcing services (through platforms such as Uber); this has now been extended to apply to the 2022–2023 financial year. 

Information obtained by the ATO in the extended data-matching program will include:

  • identification details – driver identifier, Australian business number (ABN), driver name, date of birth, phone number, email, physical addresses etc; and
  • transaction details – bank account details, aggregated payment details, gross fares, net amount paid to driver, all other income.

It is estimated that records relating to approximately 200,000 individuals will be obtained. 

According to the ATO, the data obtained will be used to identify and address incorrect reporting of income in terms of income tax returns and activity statements. It will also be used to identify instances where individuals fail to meet registration or lodgment obligations (eg GST). While the ATO will not use the data obtained from the program to initiate automated actions or activities, it may be used as a part of the methodologies by which it selects taxpayers for compliance activities. 

As with the previous program, the extension does not specifically identify the data providers of ride sourcing services, as the ATO notes that identifying providers that work the ATO “may cause commercial disadvantage”. Instead, the ATO is continuing to apply a “principles-based approach” to ensure that the selection of data providers is fair and transparent and includes any ongoing arrangement where the following conditions are satisfied: 

  •  a driver makes a car available for public hire; 
  •  a passenger uses a website, app or similar technology provided by a third party to request a ride; and
  • the driver uses the car to transport the passenger for payment with a view to profit. 

In addition to potential compliance activities, the ATO will also be using the program to promote voluntary compliance, understand behaviours and compliance profiles of individuals and businesses providing ride sourcing services and obtain a holistic view of taxpayers’ income. According to the ATO, in previous years, the data from the ride sourcing program broadly achieved the goals of being used in educational campaigns as well as identifying candidates for review of audit in relation to registration and lodgment obligations. 

This particular data-matching program will not be extended beyond the 2022–2023 financial year, given the passing of the Sharing Economy Reporting Regime Bill, which will require operators of various electronic distribution platforms to indefinitely report identification and payment information to the ATO for data-matching purposes from 1 July 2023 for ride-sourcing and short-term accommodation, and from 1 July 2024 for all other reportable transactions.

The data obtained in this data-matching program will be retained for five years from the receipt of the final instalment of verified data from the data providers. The ATO notes that this supports its general compliance approach of reviewing an assessment within the standard period of review and also aligns with the record-keeping requirements for taxpayers.