Taxman gunning for online sellers

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) is gunning for anyone looking to make an extra buck from online selling and the sharing economy sources such as Uber, Airbnb, eBay and Gumtree.

In order to bolster their retirement income, many retirees look to earn extra money by selling second-hand goods online, or by renting extra rooms or second properties through Airbnb.

Tax specialists are cautioning anyone who earns added income from the $500 million-plus ‘sharing economy’ to think about the tax consequences and declare their income, as online payments leave a digital signature that can be easily traced by the ATO’s data-matching technology.

“The sharing economy and online selling have changed the way we do a lot of things, but it hasn’t changed your tax obligations,” said ATO Assistant Commissioner Matthew Bambrick.

“If you earn money from doing odd jobs, such as through tasking platforms, transporting passengers through things like ride-sourcing, or renting out a room or house, you need to declare it because it counts as assessable income.

“Amounts paid for renting out all or part of a house or unit through the sharing economy must be declared as rental income in the tax return.”

Unbeknown to many, the ATO can access eBay accounts, especially those of users with more than $20,000 of sales a year. The ATO also receives around 650 million reports per year from third parties, such as banks and PayPal, and has the power to investigate anything that “doesn’t look quite right”.

Although renting a room on the odd holiday or selling a few items of second-hand clothing may be seen as a ‘hobby’ by the ATO, repeat sales would be deemed as assessable income and, therefore, must be declared. If the ATO believes retirees are earning extra money, it could inform Centrelink who, in turn, could reduce, or worse, cut Age Pensions from those looking to supplement their income.

Online sellers should put some money aside from online earnings to ensure they can pay tax, should the need arise.

Read more at Courier Mail

Do you sell goods online? Do you think it’s fair that the ATO targets people looking to subsidise their income, when it could, instead, use its considerable resources to crack down on multinational tax evasion?

Related articles:
Limits for selling on eBay
How to sell online
How to stop Centrelink tracking you

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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