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      Buying A Car For Uber

      Buying A Car For Uber

      As an Uber Driver, your car is your most critical business asset, so the decision to buy a car for Uber is an important one. Perhaps you’re looking to start driving but your current car doesn’t meet Uber’s requirements. Perhaps you see yourself driving for Uber longer term so it’s time to upgrade. Or perhaps you just need a new car, and driving for Uber is a fantastic way to help with the cost. In all of these cases it’s important to understand the tax implications before you buy a new car for Uber.

      Also, we know that Uber drivers are eligible for the Instant Asset Write-Off, which was replaced in October 2020 with Temporary Full Expensing. But did you know these deductions can come with a nasty sting in the tail?  So before you decide to buy a new vehicle for Uber, you need to have a clear picture of how it works and how much you’ll actually get back on tax.  

      This article aims to cover all the essentials of claiming GST and tax deductions when you buy a car for Uber.

       

      First Considerations

      A common misconception to clear up right away, especially with the Instant Asset Write-Off or Temporary Full Expensing, is that you’ll get the cost of your new car back on tax. This is not the case.

      When you buy a car you will get a tax deduction for the cost of the car, which is different from getting the money back. How much money the deduction actually puts into your pocket will depend on your marginal tax rate and on your business profit. For some people the tax deduction may not actually give any money back at all. So it’s important that you understand how the tax deduction will apply in your circumstances. This is explained below under the heading ‘Claiming Tax Deductions On A New Car’.

      Another important consideration is that many drivers don’t make as much money from rideshare or delivery driving as they first expect, especially after taking into account income tax, GST and car running costs. Be sure to evaluate whether you can still afford your car even if you make less than you expect from Uber driving.

      If you’re not sure yet whether you’ll drive Uber for the long term, but your current car doesn’t meet requirements, a great option is to rent a vehicle and try Uber first before committing to a car purchase or a loan. There are a number of rental companies that specialise in renting to Uber drivers. We highly recommend Splend for their exceptional member services, including driver training and strategic advice, fuel discounts, and networking opportunities with other drivers. Read more here about renting a car for Uber.

      Here are a few more common questions about buying a car:

      • New or Used? Tax-wise, it makes no difference. You’ll get the same tax deduction price regardless of whether the car is brand new or used. 
      • Dealer or Private Seller? Buying from a dealer is usually a little more expensive because they provide benefits such as a statutory warranty, so you’ll need to decide if this is worthwhile for you. From a tax perspective, if you buy from a dealer the cost of the car will include GST, which you can claim back from the ATO. So if you’re comparing a dealer car to a private sale car be sure to take into account the GST you’ll get back from the dealer car. More on how to calculate this below.
      • Can I Get The Instant Asset Write-Off or Temporary Expensing?  Yes, all Uber, rideshare and food delivery drivers who have an ABN are eligible, but there are some traps to be aware of. Scroll down to read more on claiming depreciation on your new car.

       

      Financing Your Car

      There are many factors to consider in choosing how to finance your car for Uber, including affordability of repayments, how long you plan to drive for, and whether your circumstances allow you to apply for a loan. These questions are best discussed with your finance broker, who should be able to provide you with calculations comparing options for financing your Uber vehicle, including a loan vs lease analyses.

      The way you choose to buy and finance your car will also affect the way you claim tax deductions. For example, the timing of tax deductions for a loan vs a lease are very different: 

      • Buy Car & Take Out a Loan: If you purchase your car directly and take out a loan, the interest on your loan will be tax-deductible as it is charged to your loan account, which means larger deductions in the earlier years and gradually tapering off over time. Also, if you buy a car you’ll be able to claim depreciation on the cost of the car itself, which will usually be claimed upfront in the year of purchase under the Instant Asset Write Off or Temporary Full Expensing. If you purchase your car from a dealer (i.e. a GST-registered seller) you’ll also receive a lump sum refund of GST on your next BAS.
      • Lease or Rent a Car: If you lease or rent a vehicle, your tax deductions and GST claims are spread evenly over the life of the lease, rather than being ‘front-loaded’. You’ll claim the GST back on your lease/rental payments quarterly, and claim a tax deduction for your lease repayments for the year (excl GST) on your tax return. Since you don’t own the vehicle directly you won’t be eligible to claim depreciation or the Instant Asset Write-off (more on this below). Here’s more on Renting a Car for Uber.
      • Salary Packaging: If you salary package a vehicle through your employer, you’ll receive all of your tax benefits through your pay. This means you cannot also claim tax deductions for those expenses in your tax return, as this would be ‘double-dipping’. You can still claim GST and tax deductions for any expenses that are not packaged (i.e. paid out of your own pocket), but you must keep a logbook to be eligible.

      (Note that you must have a 12-week logbook to claim all of the above tax deductions, more detail on logbooks below).

      As you can see, from a tax perspective the biggest difference is that with a loan your tax benefits are ‘front-loaded’, while if you lease/rent a car the tax benefits are spread evenly over the lease/rental period. So when choosing which of these suits you best consider how long you expect to drive for, whether you plan to upgrade the car in few years or car or keep it long term, and your immediate cashflow needs.

      Free Uber Bookkeeping SpreadsheetUber Bookkeeping Spreadsheet

      Claiming GST on a New Car For Uber

      If you purchase your car from a dealer, the purchase price will include GST. If you are registered for GST on the date of purchase you can claim back the GST on your Uber vehicle on your next Business Activity Statement (BAS). The amount of GST you’ll get back will be a little less than 1/11th of the price of your car (because some on-road costs don’t include GST) multiplied by your business-use percentage. Note that a logbook isn’t required for GST claims, instead the ATO allows you to make a reasonable estimate of your business use percentage. The logbook is required for your end of year income tax though, more on this below.

      There is a maximum limit of GST that you can claim on the purchase of any car, which is calculated in reference to the ATO’s Car Cost Limit.  To calculate your limit, take the car cost limit for the year you purchased the car in, and divide by 11. Then apply your logbook percentage to the result, and this is the maximum GST credit you can claim on the purchase of your car.

      • 2019-2020: Car cost limit = $57,581, so the GST limit is $5,234 x your logbook %.
      • 2020-2021: Car cost limit = $59,136, so the GST limit is $5,376 x your logbook %.
      • 2021-2022: Car cost limit = $60,733, so the GST limit is $5,521 x your logbook %.

      Remember that to be eligible to register for GST, you must have actively started the Uber application process to prove that you are ‘running a business’. If you plan to purchase a car and you haven’t yet registered for GST, we recommend that you start the Uber driver application process BEFORE buying your car in order to prove your eligibility for a GST Registration. Then download our free Uber Tax Info Pack in order to access our free GST Registration service. We’ll submit your GST Registration application to the ATO for you for free. 

      Other Situations:

      • Purchase from Private Seller: If you purchase a car privately, there is generally no GST on the purchase price, as the seller is not registered for GST. This means there is no GST to claim back on the purchase of the car, because you did not pay any GST in the first place.
      • Lease or Rent: On your quarterly BAS you’ll claim back the GST on your lease/rent payments multiplied by your business use percentage. There is no up-front deduction for GST, instead you claim it quarter by quarter over the life of the lease
      • Salary Packaging: In a salary packaging arrangement your employer owns the car and pays the expenses, so they are the ones to claim the GST credits. However this is taken into account when working out the amount that is deducted from your pay, so you still indirectly receive the benefit of the GST credits. If you pay for fuel, cleaning or any other running costs out of your own pocket (i.e. outside of the salary packaging) you can claim the GST on these expenses on your BAS.

      Claiming Depreciation on a New Car For Uber

      If you have bought a car during the financial year, we strongly recommend having your tax return prepared by DriveTax or another tax agent.

      The tax legislation behind car depreciation is more complex than it’s ever been before, the tax return form itself is confusing, and there are traps that could mean you end up with a less-than-optimum tax result. 

      When we prepare your tax return, we’ll explain how the Instant Asset Write-Off or Full Expensing rules will work for your specific tax circumstances. We’ll run all the calculations and analyse your options to make sure your tax deduction for your new car is maximised.

      Instant Asset Write-Off and Temporary Full Expensing

      Up until the 6th of October 2020, the Instant Asset Write Off gave Uber Drivers and all business owners a full tax deduction when purchasing a new business asset costing under $150,000 (lower IAWO limits applied in the 2019 and earlier financial years, you can view them here). For rideshare and food delivery drivers however, the effective limit was much lower due to the Car Cost Limit discussed below.

      As of the 6th of October 2020 the ATO have introduced a new tax concession called Temporary Full Expensing that overrides the Instant Asset Write Off. Temporary Full Expensing applies to all assets purchased from 7:30pm (ACT time) on the 6th of October 2020 until the 30th of June 2023. There is no cost limit, but again, the Car Cost Limit does put a cap on the amount you can claim for your new car.

      So from a practical perspective, for rideshare and food delivery drivers who purchase a car, there is really no difference between the Instant Asset Write-Off and Temporary Full Expensing.

      There are some key things to note for both the Instant Asset Write Off and Temporary Full Expensing:

      • The car can be new or used, and can be bought from a dealer or private sale
      • If you are registered for GST then you can only claim the GST-exclusive amount, the GST itself will be claimed back on your BAS. If you are not registered for GST (i.e. food delivery drivers) then you can ignore the GST and claim the whole cost of your car
      • The Car Cost Limit sets the maximum amount you can claim, more on this below
      • You MUST have a valid 12-week ATO-compliant logbook, and you can only claim this percentage

      Traps To Look Out For

      It’s important to note that claiming the IAWO/Full Expensing is not always the best outcome tax-wise. Depending on your circumstances, sometimes it’s better not to claim the whole cost of the car upfront and instead to spread the deduction over a number of years.

      For example, if claiming Full Expensing for your car pushed you below the tax-free threshold, then the tax-free part of your car deduction would be wasted, you would get no tax benefit from it at all. This is likely to be true for many drivers who had lower income this financial year due to COVID. At the end of this blog post I’ve created a series of example scenarios where the IAWM/Full Expensing may or may not be beneficial, depending on your business gross income, business net profit, employment income and logbook percentage.

      It is possible to opt-out of the Full Expensing rules, and instead use a traditional depreciation calculation method known as Division 40 to spread your car claim over a number of financial years. This would push more of your car deduction forward to future financial years where your taxable income and marginal tax rates might be higher.

      However opting-out of the IAWO/Full Expensing is not easy. It requires a number of extra steps in your tax return, and comes with a number of traps to look out for. If you think this might apply to you, I would strongly recommend having your tax return prepared by DriveTax or another tax agent. We can work out the optimum strategy for claiming your new car based on your income and circumstances, and can complete the opt-out process if that’s the most tax-effective option for you.

      Car Cost Limit

      The ATO’s Car Cost Limit sets the maximum amount that you can claim on the purchase of any car. If your car purchase cost is more than the relevant limit, then you can only claim up to the limit. The rest of your car purchase cost is not deductible. Note that if you are registered for GST then you must exclude the GST on your car purchase when calculating the limit.

      Here are the limits:

      • 2019-2020: Car cost limit = $57,581 x your logbook %.
      • 2020-2021: Car cost limit = $59,136 x your logbook %.
      • 2021-2022: Car cost limit = $60,733 x your logbook %.

      Logbook Requirement

      Also remember you MUST have a 12-week ATO-compliant logbook in order to claim depreciation, full expensing, the IAWO, fuel, insurance or any other car deductions. You can start your logbook any time before 30 June in the year you buy your car and it will be valid once it has run for 12 weeks. You can read more about this in our blog post How To Keep A Logbook For Uber.

      Business Losses

      Often when you purchase a car you’ll end up making an overall business loss for your rideshare or delivery driving. What happens to this loss in your tax return depends on how much ‘gross income’ you earned from rideshare or food delivery.

      Gross income is your income before deducting any expenses (e.g. Uber fees) and excluding GST. If you use the DriveTax Spreadsheet, refer to column D, or on your Monthly Tax Summaries take all the Income items and divide by 1.1.

      • If your gross income is over $20,000, then you can claim your business loss as a tax deduction against your employee and other income.
      • If your gross income is under $20,000, then your business loss cannot be claimed this year. Instead it must be be ‘carried forward’, which means it can only be claimed against business profits (not employee income) in future years.

      If you started driving partway through the financial year then you can make a ‘reasonable estimate’ of what your gross income would have been for a full 12 months. The best way to prove your estimate is to calculate your pro-rata income from when you started driving up until 30 June. (If your income was affected by lockdowns you can make allowances for this in your estimate)

      So for example:

      • If you started driving on 1 January and you made $11,000 gross income for the 6 months up to 30 June, then you could reasonably estimate your income for a full 12 months would have been over $20,000. Therefore you can claim your business loss as a tax deduction against your employee and other taxable income.
      • If you started driving on 1 January and you only made $8,000 gross income for the 6 months up to 30 June, then you could not say your 12 month income would be over $20,000. Therefore your business loss cannot be claimed against your other taxable income.

      So if this second category applies to you and your gross income will be below $20,000 (or pro-rata equivalent), then the maximum tax deduction you can get for your car in the current financial year is to push your business profit down to $0. The remaining car deduction would become a loss which would be ‘carried forward’ and can only be claimed against business profits in future years.

      As you can see, your gross business income has a huge impact on the tax deduction you’ll get for your new car. It’s important to factor these rules into your car purchase decision, and into your expectations for your end of year tax return.

      One more tip: if you think you will have a business loss this year, AND you have employee income that you want to claim your loss against, AND you think you might be close to the $20,000 threshold, then I recommend keeping an eye on your gross income throughout the year. As 30 June approaches, if you’re close to $20,000 but not quite there you may like to squeeze in some extra driving before the end of the financial year to get you over the line and make sure you can claim your business loss this year.

      Claiming an Existing Car

      If you start doing rideshare or food delivery and you use a car that you already own, you may be able to claim the instant asset write-off. You will first need to calculate how much the car has depreciated between the date you bought it and the date you started using it for business purposes. This is calculated using the diminishing value method and an effective life of 8 years. This calculation is too complex for me to explain in full here, so if this scenario applies to you I recommend having your tax return prepared by DriveTax or another tax agent and have it calculated for you. From there, you can claim the Instant Asset Write-Off or Temporary Full Expensing on the remaining value of your car. 

      Claiming Deductions For Other Ownership Options

      • Lease or Rental: You can claim a tax deduction for the cost of your lease/rental repayments (excl GST) for the year multiplied by your logbook percentage. You cannot claim the cost of buying the car itself, because technically it is the lease/rental company who purchased the car, not you. Here’s more on Renting a Car for Uber.
      • Salary Packaging: You cannot claim a tax deduction for salary packaged expenses, because you have already received the tax benefit through the salary packaging. You can claim any expenses you pay for out of your own pocket (i.e. outside of the salary packaging) as long as you have kept a logbook.

      In all of the above situations, you MUST keep a valid ATO-compliant logbook to claim these deductions, even if your use is 100%. Otherwise you cannot claim the instant asset write-off, depreciation, loan interest, fuel or any other car running costs, and you’ll instead be limited to just the cents per kilometre method, which is a maximum tax deduction of $3,600. See our blog post on Tax Deductions for Uber Drivers for more information on keeping a logbook.

      Selling Your Uber Vehicle

      If you are selling your old car, trading it in or you stop driving for Uber, and you claimed that car as a business asset for Uber then you must pay tax on the sale. (This doesn’t apply if your previous car was never used for Uber, or was only used very briefly).

      If your car is considered a business asset and you are GST-registered you must pay GST of 1/11th on the sale price on your next BAS (even if you sell the car privately). Then, on your end of year tax return, you must make a ‘balancing adjustment’ on the difference between the depreciated value of car in your tax return and its actual sale price. This is best explained with an example:

      At time of purchase:

      • Purchase price = $20,000
      • Logbook = 80%
      • Instant Asset Write Off/Temporary Full Expensing claimed = $16,000
      • Tax saving = $16,000 x your marginal tax rate %

      Two years later:

      • Sale price (or if stopped driving for Uber then market value) = $15,000
      • Logbook = 80%
      • Taxable portion of sale/market value = $12,000
      • Depreciated value of car according to tax return = $0 (because it was fully claimed/written off two years ago)
      • Taxable “profit” on sale of car = $12,000 – $0 = $12,000
      • Tax payable = $12,000 x your marginal tax rate %

      As you can see, claiming the Instant Asset Write-Off or Temporary Full Expensing does come with a sting in the tail, in the form of tax to pay, when you eventually sell the car or stop using the car for business.

      If you trade in the car for another one and continue driving for Uber then this won’t actually be a problem. The tax deduction from your new car will usually more than offset the tax payable on the old car. However, if you sell your car and don’t buy another, or you just stop driving for Uber, then you will have tax to pay.

      It’s important to keep this in mind, especially if you only plan to drive for a year or two. If you get a nice tax refund in the year you buy your car, consider putting some of that in savings to cover the eventual tax bill when you stop driving.

      Other FAQ’s

      • Name and ABN on the Invoice: For GST purposes, for a purchase over $1,000 your ‘identity’ must appear on the invoice. This can be either your name and address, or your ABN. Otherwise you cannot claim GST on the purchase of your car.
      • Invoice for a Private Sale: The ATO understands that when buying a car privately you won’t get a formal tax invoice. You should instead write your own receipt for the purchase of the car, showing the name, address and contact details of both you and the seller, the purchase date, price, and registration number or VIN number. Both of you should sign and date the receipt. You should also keep copies of bank statements or bank cheques or other proof of payment.
      • Buying in a Spouse’s Name: The ATO’s rules are inconsistent on this. For income tax the ATO accepts that spouses often register assets or pay expenses on behalf of each other or in each other’s names for various reasons. So as long as the vehicle is genuinely for your Uber driving and you have a logbook to prove this, you can still claim depreciation in your tax return. The same is true for any running costs that your spouse pays for. GST is different, for expenses over $1,000 you can only claim GST credits if your name appears on the invoice. Therefore if you are purchasing a car from a dealer and wish to claim for GST you should make sure the car is in your name.
      • Business or Private Registration and Insurance: The ATO doesn’t care whether you register or insure the car as business or private, you can claim tax deductions either way. You should find out the requirements of your insurance company and the road traffic authority in your state to determine how you should register and insure your car.

      What Next?

      • Make sure you can afford the car even if you earn less from Uber than you expect
      • Decide whether a loan, lease or rental is best for you, and chat to a finance broker if you need help
      • If you need to register for an ABN or GST (or you just want to learn more about your tax obligations), download our free Uber Tax Info Pack
      • Start a logbook. Read our blog post on Keeping A Logbook For Uber for more information
      • See our BAS Services Page for help lodging your BAS’s to claim back the GST on your car purchase
      • If you’d like to learn more about buying a car for Uber, including how to calculate depreciation, and how to lodge your own BAS and tax return, check out our online course Understanding Uber Taxes.

      BONUS: How Much Tax Will You Save?

      Now that we’ve covered all the basics, I’ll show you some detailed tax calculations covering the most common driver scenarios when buying a new car for Uber. This is all fairly technical, so if you’re unsure about how these calculations work I strongly advise having DriveTax or another tax agent prepare your tax return this year. I have studied the new depreciation legislation inside-out, and can advise you how to get the best overall tax deduction for your new car based on your specific personal circumstances.

      In the following examples, the important thing to note is that depending on your business profit and your overall taxable income, you may get the full tax benefit from your car purchase, you may only get part of the tax benefit, or in some cases you may get no tax benefit at all.

      These six scenarios below are only some of the potential outcomes, which goes to show exactly how complicated the depreciation rules are this year and how many variables are involved in calculating the best possible outcome. 

       

      Example 1 – Still have a business PROFIT after deducting car purchase, and overall taxable income (incl employee income etc) is ABOVE tax-free threshold

      • Uber Net Profit (after deducting all other expenses, before deducting car purchase) = $44,000
      • Marginal Tax Rate = 21%
      • New Car:
        • Cost (excl GST) = $20,000
        • Logbook = 80%
        • Tax Deductible Cost = $20,000 x 80% = $16,000
      • Tax Deduction for Car against Uber profits = $16,000 x 21% tax rate = $3,360 actual tax benefit

      In this example, the driver would get the full tax benefit of their car purchase based on their marginal tax rate. 

      Example 2 – Still have a business PROFIT after deducting car purchase, and overall taxable income (incl employee income etc) is PARTLY BELOW tax-free threshold

      • Uber Net Profit (after deducting all other expenses, before deducting car purchase) = $23,200
      • Marginal Tax Rate = from $18,200 to $23,200 their tax rate is 21%, and below that is 0% 
      • New Car:
        • Cost (excl GST) = $20,000
        • Logbook = 80%
        • Tax Deductible Cost = $20,000 x 80% = $16,000
      • Tax Deduction for Car against Uber profits = $5,000 x 21% tax rate and $11,000 x 0% tax rate = $1,050 actual tax benefit

      For this driver, the first $5,000 of their car tax deduction reduces their taxable income from $23,200 to $18,200 (i.e. down to the tax-free threshold). This part of the tax deduction will save them tax at their marginal tax rate of 21%. But once their taxable income drops below $18,200 the rest of the tax deduction doesn’t have any further benefit, it is essentially wasted.  

      This driver could be better off if they didn’t have to claim the Instant Asset Write-Off / Full Expensing, and instead just claimed the minimum depreciation for this year. That way, the rest of the depreciation would be saved for future years when their taxable income might be higher and the tax deduction actually saves them tax. Opting out of the Full Expensing rules is possible, but complicated. It involves making a declaration to the ATO and then using a completely different depreciation calculation method. If you’d like the technical details you can find them here and here, but my advice is to have your tax return prepared by DriveTax or another registered tax agent who has an in-depth understanding of the new rules and how they apply to Uber drivers. 

      Example 3 – Still have a business PROFIT after deducting car purchase, and overall taxable income (incl employee income etc) is FULLY BELOW tax-free threshold

      • Uber Net Profit (after deducting all other expenses, before deducting car purchase) = $17,000
      • Marginal Tax Rate = 0%
      • New Car:
        • Cost (excl GST) = $20,000
        • Logbook = 80%
        • Tax Deductible Cost = $20,000 x 80% = $16,000
      • Tax Deduction for Car against Uber profits = $16,000 x 0% marginal tax rate = $0 actual tax benefit

      For this driver, the whole tax deduction for their car purchase is completely wasted because they are already below the tax-free threshold.  

      This driver could be better off if they didn’t have to claim the Instant Asset Write-Off / Full Expensing, and instead just claimed the minimum depreciation for this year. That way, the rest of the depreciation would be saved for future years when their taxable income might be higher and the tax deduction actually saves them tax. Opting out of the Full Expensing rules is possible, but complicated. It involves making a declaration to the ATO and then using a completely different depreciation calculation method. If you’d like the technical details you can find them here and here, but my advice is to have your tax return prepared by DriveTax or another registered tax agent who has an in-depth understanding of the new rules and how they apply to Uber drivers. 

      Example 4 – Have a business LOSS after deducting car purchase, and Gross Business Income is BELOW $20,000

      Gross business income means all rideshare and food delivery gross income excluding GST before deducting Uber fees and other business expenses. If gross business income is below $20,000 then business losses cannot be claimed as a tax deduction against employee and other taxable income. Instead they must be carried forward and can be claimed against future business profits. 

      Note that this $20,000 is pro-rata if you just started or ended your business during the financial year. So for example if you started Uber for the first time on the 1st of April, the threshold for April-June would be $5,000.  

      • Gross Business Income = less than $20,000. 
      • Net Taxable Income:
        • Uber Profit (after deducting all other expenses, before deducting car purchase) = $5,000
        • Employee Income = $30,000
      • Marginal Tax Rate = 21%
      • New Car:
        • Cost (excl GST) = $20,000
        • Logbook = 80%
        • Tax Deductible Cost = $20,000 x 80% = $16,000
      • Tax Deduction for Car against Uber profits = $5,000 x 21% marginal tax rate = $1,050 actual tax benefit
      • Remaining Uber loss can’t be claimed against employee income, so Carried Forward Loss = $11,000 

      For this driver, after claiming their car purchase they ended up with an overall business loss. Since their Gross Business Income was below $20,000 they cannot claim their business loss against their employee taxable income. Instead their business taxable profit is reduced down to $0, and then the rest of the loss must be carried forward and can be claimed in a future financial year. If they never make a profit in a future year then the tax deduction is lost. 

      If you think you might come close to $20,000 (pro-rata, as mentioned above), I recommend tracking your gross business income carefully in the lead-up to 30 June. You may like to do some extra driving in order to get over the $20,000 threshold so that you can claim the business loss. 

      Example 5 – Have a business LOSS after deducting car purchase, Gross Business Income is ABOVE $20,000, and overall taxable income (incl employee income etc) is ABOVE tax-free threshold

      Gross business income means all rideshare and food delivery gross income excluding GST before deducting Uber fees and other business expenses. If gross business income is above $20,000 then business losses can be claimed as a tax deduction against employee and other taxable income. 

      Note that this $20,000 is pro-rata if you just started or ended your business during the financial year. So for example if you started Uber for the first time on the 1st of April, then you would need $5,000 gross business income for April-June in order to be eligible to claim an Uber loss against your employee and other taxable income.  

      • Gross Business Income = more than $20,000. 
      • Net Taxable Income:
        • Uber Profit (after deducting all other expenses, before deducting car purchase) = $5,000
        • Employee Income = $40,000
      • Marginal Tax Rate = 21%
      • New Car:
        • Cost (excl GST) = $20,000
        • Logbook = 80%
        • Tax Deductible Cost = $20,000 x 80% = $16,000
      • Tax Deduction for Car against Uber profits = $5,000 x 21% marginal tax rate = $1,050 tax benefit +
      • Tax Deduction for Car against Employee income = $11,000 x 21% marginal tax rate = $2,310 tax benefit
      • Total actual tax benefit = $3,360

      For this driver, after claiming their car purchase they ended up with an overall business loss. Since their Gross Business Income was above $20,000 they can claim their business loss as a tax deduction against their employee taxable income, so effectively they get a tax deduction for the whole cost of their car.

      If this scenario might apply to you, I recommend tracking your gross business income carefully in the lead-up to 30 June, to make sure you get over the $20,000 (pro-rata) threshold.  

      Example 6 – Have a business LOSS after deducting car purchase, Gross Business Income is ABOVE $20,000, and overall taxable income (incl employee income etc) is BELOW tax-free threshold

      Gross business income means all rideshare and food delivery gross income excluding GST before deducting Uber fees and other business expenses. If gross business income is above $20,000 then business losses can be claimed as a tax deduction against employee and other taxable income. 

      Note that this $20,000 is pro-rata if you just started or ended your business during the financial year. So for example if you started Uber for the first time on the 1st of April, then you would need $5,000 gross business income for April-June in order to be eligible to claim an Uber loss against your employee and other taxable income.  

      • Gross Business Income = more than $20,000. 
      • Net Taxable Income:
        • Uber Profit (after deducting all other expenses, before deducting car purchase) = $5,000
        • Employee Income = $13,000
      • Marginal Tax Rate = 21%
      • New Car:
        • Cost (excl GST) = $20,000
        • Logbook = 80%
        • Tax Deductible Cost = $20,000 x 80% = $16,000
      • Tax Deduction for Car against Business Profits = $5,000 x 0% marginal tax rate = $0 actual tax benefit
      • Tax Deduction for Car against Employee Income = $11,000 x 0% marginal tax rate = $0 actual tax benefit

      For this driver, the whole tax deduction for their car purchase is completely wasted because they are already below the tax-free threshold.  

      This driver could be better off if they didn’t have to claim the Instant Asset Write-Off / Full Expensing, and instead just claimed the minimum depreciation for this year. That way, the rest of the depreciation would be saved for future years when their taxable income might be higher and the tax deduction actually saves them tax. Opting out of the Full Expensing rules is possible, but complicated. It involves making a declaration to the ATO and then using a completely different depreciation calculation method. If you’d like the technical details you can find them here and here, but my advice is to have your tax return prepared by DriveTax or another registered tax agent who has an in-depth understanding of the new rules and how they apply to Uber drivers. 

       

      Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment below and I’ll respond shortly!    – Jess

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      The information in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal circumstances. If you’d like to know how this article applies to you, please contact us to arrange a consultation, or talk to your accountant. 

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      Jess Murray CPA Uber Accountant

      About the Author – Jess Murray CPA – Uber Accountant

      Jess Murray is a CPA Accountant and registered tax agent. She’s been working in personal and small business tax for 13 years, and has been specialising in tax for Australian Uber Drivers for the last 5 years as the Director of DriveTax. She also teaches an online course called Understanding Uber Taxes.
      Jess is on a mission to make taxes straightforward and manageable for Uber drivers across Australia.

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