Uber And Airbnb Now In Aussie Tax Man/Woman’s Sights

An illustration picture shows the logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone next to the picture of an official German taxi sign in Frankfurt, September 15, 2014. A Frankfurt high court will hold a hearing on a recent lawsuit brought against Uberpop by Taxi Deutschland on Tuesday.  San Francisco-based Uber, which allows users to summon taxi-like services on their smartphones, offers two main services, Uber, its classic low-cost, limousine pick-up service, and Uberpop, a newer ride-sharing service, which connects private drivers to passengers - an established practice in Germany that nonetheless operates in a legal grey area of rules governing commercial transportation. The company has faced regulatory scrutiny and court injunctions from its early days, even as it has expanded rapidly into roughly 150 cities around the world.   REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach (GERMANY - Tags: BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT CRIME LAW TRANSPORT)
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Global start-ups Uber and Airbnb will appear before a Senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance this Wednesday at a Sydney hearing.

The companies, who have previously contributed to the inquiry, face accusations they redirected profits through Netherlands and Ireland.

Both Uber and Airbnb argue their operations comply with Australian tax laws and their Australian operations provide support services to parent companies in the Netherlands and Ireland.

Labor senator Sam Dastyari, who formerly chaired the inquiry, told Fairfax media that disruptive technologies still need to toe the tax line.

“There’s a lot of buzzwords around at the moment in politics about disruptive technology and innovation,” Senator Dastyari said. “I’d also like to see us get back to the old-fashioned principle where companies actually pay their taxes in Australia.”

“Just because these companies are innovative doesn’t mean we should allow them to have artificial structures designed to minimise their taxes. And that’s precisely what we will be testing on Wednesday.”

Uber is currently battling the Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan in Federal Court after the ATO ruled Uber drivers must register and pay GST.

Jordan told a senate estimates hearing last months that Uber was playing dirty to avoid paying tax. “If you were to have a company that was not transparent with us, and hadn’t co-operated particularly well with us, and in fact made publicly incorrect statements, that could impact our view of them,” Mr Jordan said.

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