Uber drivers must register for GST

In Uber B.V. v FC of T, the Federal Court has held that services provided by an Uber driver constituted a supply of “taxi travel” for GST purposes.

Accordingly, the driver was required to be registered for GST.

Facts:

The applicant applied for a declaration that one of its drivers did not supply “taxi travel” within the meaning of s 144-5 of the GST Act when he supplied Uber services on 11 September 2015. Under s 144-5(1) of the GST Act, an entity is required to be registered for GST if, in carrying on its enterprise, it supplies “taxi travel”. Taxi travel is defined in s 195-1 to mean travel that involves transporting passengers by taxi or limousine, for fares.

Decision:

The court considered that the words in s 195-1 should be given their ordinary, everyday meaning and not a trade or specialised meaning. It accepted the Commissioner’s submission that the ordinary meaning of the word “taxi” was a vehicle available for hire by the public which transports a passenger at his/her direction for the payment of a fare that will often, but not always, be calculated by reference to a taximeter.

Similarly, the word “limousine” should also be given its ordinary meaning. That meaning was a private luxurious motor vehicle which is made available for public hire and which transports a passenger at his/her direction for the payment of a fare. Accordingly, the court declared the Uber services supplied by the driver on 11 September 2015 constituted supply “taxi travel” within the meaning of s 144-5(1) (as defined in s 195-1) of the GST Act.

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