Uber drivers in Australia will now have to pay 10% goods and service tax on every dollar they earn but Airbnb hosts have avoided the tax axe despite having a similar business model and being the second pillar of the so-called sharing economy.

Or as the ABC accurately put it: “Uber is the loser and Airbnb the clear winner” in what appears to be a double-standard decision by the Australian Tax Office, one that has infuriated accommodation lobby groups.

“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 Association’s Chief Executive Officer, Richard Munro.

“Yet, if you make a room in your property available for public hire and charge a fee, GST doesn’t apply.

“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.”

He said all hotels and motels are liable for numerous taxes, inlcuding GST on most transactions.

“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?’,” Mr 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.

“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.”

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