Are you declaring your “odd jobs” income from gig economy sites?

Have you ever considered joining a site like Airtasker to make some extra cash? If so, you’ll need to keep the ATO happy. Here, we explain the tax issues that arise when you earn money performing “gigs” through Airtasker, or any other online platform that connects workers with third-party hirers looking for help with one-off tasks.

It’s important to understand that these platforms are used by everyone from “moonlighters” making some extra dollars on top of their regular job, through to self-employed people running substantial businesses (eg tradespeople) who use these platforms to pick up extra clients. Certain tax issues like GST registration can therefore depend on the person’s particular circumstances.

Is this money assessable income?

Yes, you must declare this income in your tax return. This means you must keep records of the amounts you earn.

If the platform charges you a fee or commission, you must declare the gross amount of income you earn. For example, if Sally earns $100 from a gardening gig and pays the platform a $15 service fee, she must declare the full $100 as income in her tax return.

However, you’re entitled to claim relevant deductions, including platform fees and commissions. You may also be able to deduct other expenses you incur in generating the income, including equipment and some car expenses. If your expenses also entail some personal use, you’ll only be able to claim a portion of the expenses. Your tax adviser can explain exactly what you’re entitled to deduct and how to substantiate this. In the meantime, ensure you keep receipts of all expenses related to your gigs.

How does GST work?

If your annual turnover is $75,000 or more, you must register for GST. Below this threshold, registration is optional. Being registered for GST means:

  • You must report and remit GST of 10% to the ATO. This involves additional administration, and you’ll need to take this into account when deciding what price you’re willing to perform a “gig” for. Other workers you’re competing against who aren’t GST-registered may be willing to perform a gig at a lower price.
  • However, you can claim GST credits on the GST components of business expenses you incur, including the GST included in any platform fees. (Note that where you can claim a GST credit for an expense, you can only claim the GST-exclusive part of that expense as an income tax deduction in your annual tax return.)

If you’re below the $75,000 threshold, seek advice from your adviser about whether GST registration would be worthwhile in your situation.

Do I need an ABN?

If you must register for GST (or wish to do this voluntarily), you’ll need an ABN. But what if your turnover is below $75,000 and you don’t want GST registration? While you’re not legally required to have an ABN, there are downsides of not having one: in some cases, businesses who hire you may have to withhold tax at the top marginal rate from the payment if you don’t provide an ABN.

Anyone who carries on an “enterprise” may apply for an ABN. Most gig platform users, as independent contractors performing services to make money, arguably carry on an enterprise. If you’re only planning to use gig platforms very occasionally (or as part of a genuine “hobby” like photography or crafting, rather than to make a profit), talk to a tax adviser about your ABN needs.

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