Companies which provide platforms for residential properties to be used for tourism accommodation are continuing to avoid paying their fair share of taxes in Australia.
That’s the view of the Accommodation Association of Australia (AAoA) which has slammed as inconsistent a recent ruling by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) regarding the sharing economy.
“The ATO has determined that if you make a car available for public hire and use it to transport passengers for a fare, you are required to be registered for GST regardless of your turnover,” said the AAoA’s chief executive, Richard Munro.
“Yet, if you make a room in your property available for public hire and charge a fee, GST doesn’t apply.
Although the AAoA did not name it, the most prominent member of the car-sharing fraternity us Uber. Airbnb (which the AAoA did name) is the best known home-share operator.
“Surely, the most sensible approach would be for the ATO to ensure that all companies operating in Australia’s sharing economy pay the same taxes as ‘bricks and mortar’ companies, including GST and company tax,” Munro said.
He said the reaction of some sharing economy companies was evidence that a more detailed policy response is required.
“Many operators in Australia’s accommodation industry are asking the question ‘does Airbnb pay company tax in Australia; indeed, does it pay any tax in Australia?’” Munro said.
“If it doesn’t, then it is free-riding on the bricks and mortar operators in the tourism industry who pay company tax that, in part, goes towards funding organisations like Tourism Australia, which has responsibility for driving visitation to Australia.
“It appears as if Airbnb has plenty of money to spend on marketing, including sponsoring high-profile Australian sporting clubs and major advertising campaigns, while it is seemingly paying little or no tax in Australia.
“This is in addition to the existing legal question marks which hang over property owners who rent out rooms through Airbnb and other similar platforms such as compliance fire and safety, insurance and disability access to name just a few.”
Edited by Peter Needham