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COVID-19 & Coronavirus Support Payments & Tax Info for Uber and Rideshare Drivers

Uber & Rideshare COVID-19 & Coronavirus Welfare Support & Tax Breaks

Updated Monday 5th of October 2020

I’ve now updated this guide with the latest changes to JobKeeper for Uber, rideshare and food delivery drivers. Here are the key JobKeeper changes to be aware of:

New 30% Decline In Turnover Test: To continue receiving JobKeeper under Extension 1 you must be able to show that your turnover for the July-September 2020 quarter is 30% down on July-September 2019 (or an alternative test period if you are eligible). You will then have to pass this test again for the October-December 2020 quarter in order to receive JobKeeper Extension 2 from January onwards.

New 80 Hours Test: There will now be two different payment rates, depending on whether you worked more or less than 80 hours in the month of February (there are some alternative tests if February was not a typical month for you). 

New Payment Rates: Starting from the October payment that you receive in early November, the JobKeeper payment rates will be lower, and there will be two tiers of payment depending on your 80 hours test. Then the rates will decrease again from the January payment that you receive in early February. See the summary below for the new payment amounts and dates. 

What You Need To Do: There are two key steps you must take to continue receiving JobKeeper under Extension 1.

  • Before 31st October: You must also submit an Actual Decline in Turnover Check to show that your income is still affected by COVID-19. You can do this on MyGov from 1 October, and it must be done by the 31st of October. IMPORTANT: if you are GST-Registered then you must lodge September 2020 BAS before submitting this form. And if you have not lodged your September 2019 BAS you must lodge that first too. Click here for information about lodging your BAS with DriveTax.
  • 1st November onwards: When you complete your November Monthly Declaration you’ll be required to click on the Maintain Employees link and tell the ATO whether you were over or under the 80 Hours Test. Once you know your hours the form itself is very easy and will only take a few seconds. 
  • 1st-31st January: You will need to submit another Actual Decline in Turnover form in January to be eligible for Extension 2.

For detailed instructions on how to complete these forms please jump to the link below:

Summary of JobKeeper Payments & Dates: Here’s a summary of all the JobKeeper payment dates and amounts for October onwards.

DriveTax JobKeeper Dates Uber UberEats Rideshare

(Please feel free to share this image, but please link back to DriveTax wherever possible!  www.drivetax.com.au/uber-covid-19)

As always I will keep this page updated with any new developments and FAQ’s, so please bookmark this post and check back regularly. 

Please kindly note that with JobKeeper work on top our already busy tax time I just don’t have the capacity to answer personal questions or give tax advice for free. If you would like personalised advice, help with calculations, or would like your forms submitted for you, you can purchase our 6 Month Unlimited Email Tax Support package which gives you access to personalised JobKepeer help and tax advice if you need it. 

If you’d like to be added to our email list for Coronavirus updates from Centrelink and the ATO, plus general rideshare tax information, subscribe above to our Free Uber Tax Info Pack. 

Quick Links

Introduction

As COVID-19 continues to impact our everyday lives, Uber, Rideshare and food delivery drivers are among the hundreds of thousands of small business owners who have struggled in the face of lockdowns and lost earnings.

For those who were eligible, JobKeeper and JobSeeker provided desperately needed support. But now as the original JobKeeper comes to an end and the JobKeeper Extensions kick in, we have a whole new set of tests and eligibility requires to work through.

So in this post I’ll summarise for you as best I can the JobKeeper benefits for Uber, rideshare and food delivery drivers. I’ll also explain the ATO’s Coronavirus tax breaks and other government help available for Uber drivers who are affected by COVID-19.

JobKeeper vs JobSeeker – TWO OPTIONS

The Australian Government has provided two different kinds of income support for people whose incomes have been impacted by COVID-19:

  • Option 1 – JobKeeper Payment – aimed at sole traders and employees, administered through the ATO
  • Option 2 – JobSeeker Payment – aimed at anyone who is unemployed or cannot get JobKeeper, administered through Centrelink

For most sole traders (particularly those who pass the 80 Hours test), JobKeeper will be a higher rate of payment and will likely be your first choice if you’re eligible. JobSeeker then serves as a backup for those who can’t get JobKeeeper.

Please note that I do not specialise in Centrelink or welfare payments and so I’m not able to go into detail here or advise on your specific eligibility. Instead this post will focus on JobKeeper. If you have questions about JobSeeker you will need to contact Centrelink by phone or online. 

JobKeeper for Uber Drivers

The JobKeeper Payment was announced on the 30th of March, and on the 21st of July was extended to then end of March 2021. The payment is intended to keep Australian businesses and employees afloat until the coronavirus crisis passes. You can find the ATO’s JobKeeper information page especially for sole traders here:

How Does JobKeeper Work?

If you’re eligible for JobKeeper you will receive a set amount per fortnight. The ATO will pay this money to you at the end of each month once you have submitted a Monthly Declaration to the ATO via MyGov.

The main eligibility requirement is that your income has declined by at least 30% from pre-COVID-19 levels. Starting from October there will be two tiers of payment, depending on whether the sole-trader worked more or less than 80 hours per month prior to COVID-19. Jump here for the JobKeeper payment rates.

JobKeeper is also paid to eligible employees through their employers. You can only get JobKeeper from one source, so if you have an employee job and also do rideshare or food delivery, if your employer pays you JobKeeper you cannot also get it for your sole trader income. Likewise, you cannot get JobSeeker and JobKeeper at the same time.

Note that the JobKeeper Payment is taxable income just the same as your Uber income was. The ATO will not withhold any tax from the payments they send you, so you should put aside some savings for your end of year tax bill if necessary, just as you normally would. GST does not apply to JobKeeper Payments.

Am I Eligible for JobKeeper? – Updated for JobKeeper Extensions 1 and 2

The main eligibility factors are a 30% decline in turnover, no part-time or full-time employee job, up to date tax lodgments and citizenship/visa requirements.

30% Decline In Turnover

The Basic Turnover Test

To be eligible for the JobKeeper Payment you must show that your turnover has fallen by 30% or more compared to the relevant comparison period:

  • JobKeeper Extension 1 – turnover for July-September 2020 compared to July-September 2019
  • JobKeeper Extension 2 – turnover for October-December 2020 compared to October-December 2019

If the 2019 comparison periods are not a fair reflection of your pre-COVID-19 income then there are alternative tests, more on these shortly.

To answer a frequently asked question, if you drive for multiple companies (Uber, DiDi, Ola etc), they are all added together for the purposes of the 30% test, they are not classed as separate jobs.

How To Calculate Turnover

If you are registered for GST, under the JobKeeper Extensions the ATO will be using your BAS’s to work out your turnover and assess your eligibility.

This means you will need to lodge your September BAS before October 31 so that you can submit your Turnover Declaration for JobKeeper Extension 1. Then you will need to lodge your December BAS by January 31 so you can submit your Turnover for JobKeeper 2.

If you need help lodging your BAS, visit our BAS Information page to find out how to lodge through DriveTax.  Or if you did not drive at all and have $0 income, here’s how to easily lodge a Nil BAS for free via MyGov.

Once you have lodged your BAS’s it’s very easy to calculate your JobKeeper Turnover. On your BAS just take G1 minus 1A. In other words, your Gross Sales excluding GST.

If you are not registered for GST you will need to calculate your Turnover manually. UberEats drivers, refer to your Monthly Tax Summary and just add up all of the amounts on the top half of the summary (i.e. Fare Breakdown + Other Income Breakdown). If you deliver for any other companies, if they give you a summary of your income before deducting their fees then that’s the figure you should use, or if that’s not available then just go by the deposits into your bank account.

If you are registered for GST and using the Alternative Tests, follow the same process as for non-GST in the previous paragraph and then divide the result by 1.1.

Alternative Tests

If the comparison quarter is not a fair representation of your pre-COVID-19 income then the ATO has alternative tests available. However these are not available to everyone. You can only use these tests if the specific circumstances apply to you. Here are the alternatives:

  • If you started driving/delivering after 1 July and were not driving for the whole Comparison Quarter, you can calculate your alternative comparison quarter as follows:
    • If you started driving/delivering between 1 July 2019 and 31 Nov 2019, you have two options:
      • take your Turnover for Dec 2019 + Jan 2020 + Feb 2020
      • take your Turnover for each whole month up to and including Feb 2020 (i.e. don’t include the month you started driving, use the month after you started driving through to the month of Feb) and divide that by the number of whole months you have just added up, then multiply by 3.
    • If you started driving/delivering between 1 Dec 2019 and  31 Jan 2020, take your turnover for each whole month up to including Feb 2020 (i.e. don’t include the month you started driving, use the month after you started driving through to Feb), and divide that by the number of whole months you have just added up, then multiply by 3. However please note that if you started driving in January, unless you are registered for GST monthly you will not be eligible for JobKeeper under the BAS & Tax Lodgments date rules. See further below for more.
    • If you started driving 1 Feb 2020 – 29 Feb 2020, take your turnover for Feb, divide by the number of days since you started driving until the end of Feb, and then multiply by 29, then multiple by 3 However please note that if you started driving in Feb, unless you are registered for GST monthly you will not be eligible for JobKeeper under the BAS & Tax Lodgments date rules. See further below for more.
  • If you had a substantial increase in turnover after the Comparison Quarter, for example in the comparison quarter you were driving part time, but some time between then and COVID-19 you changed to driving full time:
    • To be eligible to use this turnover test you must meet one of the following requirements:
      • Your turnover increased by 50% in the 12 months immediately before the comparison quarter or before 1 March 2020, OR
      • Your turnover increased by 25% in the 6 months immediately before the comparison quarter or before 1 March 2020, OR
      • Your turnover increased by 12.5% in the 3 months immediately before the comparison quarter or before 1 March 2020
    • If you pass one of those tests, then your comparison quarter is calculated as follows:
      • Total Turnover for the three months before the comparison quarter, compared to the comparison quarter, OR
      • Total Turnover for Dec 2019 + Jan 2020 + Feb 2020 divided by 3, compared to the comparison quarter, OR
  • If you had an injury, sickness or leave, for example you were ill or on an overseas holiday during the comparison quarter, you take the month immediately before the month that you had the injury, illness or leave, and multiply that by 3. Use this as your comparison quarter.

There are a few other Alternative tests but they generally don’t relate to rideshare/food delivery drivers unless you were affected by bushfires.  Also note that the ATO have specifically said “the Commissioner cannot make discretionary decisions for individual entities”. you can find more detail on the Alternative Tests here.

Employment + Uber

If you have a full time or part time employee job, you cannot claim the JobKeeper Payment as a sole trader. (This doesn’t apply to casual employees, they can still get JobKeeper if they meet all the other eligibility criteria). Permanent employees can only receive the JobKeeper Payment through their employer. This is true regardless of whether the employer is actually eligible for the JobKeeper Payment or not.

The government have brought in this rule because they assume if you have a full time or part time job, then EITHER:

  • your employer’s business has declined by 30% and so you will get the JobKeeper Payment OR
  • your employer’s business has not declined by 30% and so you will get your normal wages.

Either way, you will be getting paid, and so you are not eligible for further government assistance.

If you previously received JobKeeper as an employee and later lose your job entirely, it seems that you cannot later claim JobKeeper as a sole trader. In this case you will need to claim JobSeeker instead.

BAS & Tax Lodgments

To be eligible for the JobKeeper Payment you must have lodged EITHER ONE of the following by the 12th of March:

  • A BAS for any quarter between 1 July 2018 and 31 December 2019 that included at least $1 of business income, OR
  • Your 2018-2019 tax return that included at least $1 of business income

This means that the following people WILL NOT be eligible for the JobKeeper Payment:

  • Rideshare drivers who started driving after the 31st of December 2019
  • Food delivery drivers who started driving after the 30th of June 2019

Just for clarity, if EITHER of the following apply to you then you DO pass this eligibility test:

  • If you were driving/riding/delivering anytime between 1 July 2018 and 31 December 2019 and you lodged at least one of those BAS’s before the 12th of March, OR
  • If you were driving/riding/delivering in the 2019 financial year and you lodged your 2019 tax return before the 12th of March, OR
  • If you were driving/riding/delivering in the 2019 financial year and as at the 12th of March your 2019 tax return was not due yet (e.g. you were registered with a tax agent, more on this in the next section)

If you are behind in your tax lodgments: 

The ATO have published more information about ‘Commissioner’s Discretion’.  If you had not lodged your 2019 tax return by the 12th of March because it was not due yet, then the ATO will apply discretion and allow you to claim JobKeeper.

For example, if you were on the tax lodgment list of DriveTax or another tax agent on the 12th of March and you lodged your 2018 tax return on time, then your 2019 tax return due date would have been the 15th of May so it was not overdue. Another example is if you were affected by bushfires, you had an automatic extension of your 2019 tax return due date.

If either of these apply to you and your 2019 tax return was not overdue as at the 12th of March then the Commissioner discretion is applied and you are still eligible for JobKeeper (subject to all the other criteria).  Here’s a summary of what to do next:

  • If you have lodged a previous tax return with DriveTax, please email me to confirm that you were still on our tax lodgment list and that your 2019 tax return was not overdue as at the 12th of March. If so, then you can go ahead and apply for JobKeeper.
  • If you lodge your tax returns through a different tax agent, contact them to confirm you were still on their tax lodgment list as at the 12th of March and that your 2019 tax return is not overdue. If so, then you can go ahead and apply for JobKeeper.
  • If you have lodged a BAS with DriveTax but not a tax return you will not be on our tax lodgment list. If you were also not on any other tax agent’s lodgment list then your 2019 tax return will be overdue so you will be ineligible for JobKeeper.
  • If you are not on any tax agent’s tax lodgment list because you lodge your tax returns yourself, then your 2019 tax return is overdue so you will be ineligible for JobKeeper.

This particular rule caught out alot of sole traders. It’s undoubtedly a tough rule so I’m sorry if this is bad news. Remember, if you’re not entitled to JobKeeper there will still be the JobSeeker Payment.

Visas & Citizenship

Regarding citizenship and visas, you can only receive the JobKeeper allowance if you are an Australian citizen, or the holder of a Permanent visa, a non-protected Special Category Visa who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more, or a Special Category (Subclass 444) visa.

I know that rules out many drivers and deliverers who are new Australians and I’m sorry, and I wish this was not the case!

The 80 Hours Test for JobKeeper – Updated for JobKeeper Extensions 1 and 2

With the JobKeeper Extensions the ATO have added a new test whereby the amount of your JobKeeper payment will depend on whether you worked more or less than 80 hours for either February or June.

The purpose of this test is to remove a loophole of the first round of JobKeeper that allowed a sole-trader or employee who only worked part-time, but whose income declined 30%, to receive the full amount of JobKeeper even if it was more than what they earned pre-COVID.  With this new rule the ATO is hoping that people will still get government support if they need it, but they won’t get more from the government than they did in pre-COVID times.

Most people will be looking at February for this test, so I will refer to February from here onwards, but June is equally allowable if you worked more hours in June than in February.

The Basic Test

If in EITHER February 2020 or June 2020 you were ‘actively engaged’ in your business for MORE than 80 hours, then you will be classed as Tier 1, and you will get the higher JobKeeper payment rate.

If in BOTH February 2020 and June 2020 you were ‘actively engaged’ in your business for LESS than 80 hours, then you will be classed as Tier 2, and you will get the Lower JobKeeper payment rate.

What Does Actively Engaged Mean?

The following activities would be included in your Actively Engaged hours

  • Rideshare Driving – on trip with passengers, travelling to pick up a passenger, app switched on waiting for a ride, travelling from home to your first trip,  from your last trip home (whether the app is switched on or off), etc
  • Delivery Driving –  on a delivery, travelling to pick up a delivery, travelling between pickups or deliveries, app switched on waiting for a delivery, travelling from home to your first pick up and from your last delivery home (whether the app is switched on or off), etc
  • Maintenance – car washing, cleaning, maintenance, servicing, and driving to or from any of these
  • Attendance – attending and driving to or from any vehicle checks, driver checks, medicals, car rental depots or any other appointments directly related to your rideshare or delivery business
  • Home Office – recordkeeping, accounting, research, online discussions etc

How Do I Prove It?

When you apply for the JobKeeper Extension you will not have to supply evidence to the ATO directly. But you must be able to demonstrate how you calculated your hours to the ATO if they ask you. Obviously no-one knew back in February that they would be required to prove their hours, and the ATO understands this and does not expect you to have documented them at the time. So common sense applies here.

Your driving hours will be recorded with your rideshare/delivery companies, so that would be easy for the ATO to verify. You should then be able to make a reasonable estimate for the time to/from/in between trips, and also a reasonable amount for car maintenance, bookkeeping and so on.

If you are on the borderline between the +/- 80 hours line and you want to claim +80 hours (Tier 1), I would recommend writing some notes showing exactly how you calculated your 80 hours with reference to the list of ‘actively engaged’ activities above. I would also recommend keeping a diary for a week or two (either now or when you next start driving) to show how your ‘other’ (non-trip) hours add up in an average week. That way, if the ATO wish to check your JobKeeper claim you will be able to show them that you were careful and accurate when claiming the higher JobKeeper amount.

What Are The Alternative Tests?

If February 2020 was not a ‘typical’ month for you, for example due to illness, leave or some other specific factor, then you can use any previous month that was a fair reflection of a ‘typical’ month for you.

The emphasis here is on the word ‘typical’. To put it a different way, if February was a typical month then you are not eligible to use an alternative test. Here are two examples of what this means:

  • Alternative Test applies – you normally average about 25 hours per week of driving, 100 hours per month. But in February you were sick for a week so you only did 75 hours. In this scenario you can use the alternative test and base your 80 hour test on an earlier month. Your rideshare company’s driving records would show that you didn’t drive for a week, and all the other months were fairly consistent, so it’s clear that February was not ‘typical’.
  • Alternative Test does not apply –  you normally averaged about 15 hours per week of driving, 60 hours per month. But in December and January you did a whole lot of extra driving because you were on university holidays, so your average was 100 per month for those two months, then you went back to your normal 60 hours per month in February.  In this scenario you cannot use the alternative test, because February was a typical month. So you cannot base your 80 hours test on December and January.

For more detail, visit the ATO’s informatoin page here.

How Much Will I Get? – Updated for JobKeeper Extensions 1 and 2

Here’s a summary of all the JobKeeper payment dates and amounts for October onwards.

DriveTax JobKeeper Dates Uber UberEats Rideshare

(Please feel free to share this image, but please link back to DriveTax wherever possible!  www.drivetax.com.au/uber-covid-19)

How Do I Apply for the JobKeeper Extension? – Updated for JobKeeper Extensions 1 and 2

If you are already enrolled for JobKeeper and your income is still 30% down compared to pre-COVID, then you will be eligible for the JobKeeper Extension. There are two steps you must complete to continue getting JobKeeper.

1) Submit your Check Annual Decline In Turnover form by the 31st of October.

Before you begin, make sure you have read the notes on the new 30% Decline In Turnover Test above. Also, if you are GST-Registered make sure you have lodged your BAS’s for the latest quarter (either July-September 2020 or October-December 2020) and the comparison quarter (either July-September 2019 or October-December 2019).

If you need help lodging your BAS, visit our BAS Information page to find out how to lodge through DriveTax.  Or if you did not drive at all and have $0 income for that quarter, here’s how to easily lodge a Nil BAS for free via MyGov.

When you’re ready, here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. If you are GST-registered, make sure you have lodged your BAS first before completing this form
  2. Log into your MyGov and navigate to the ATO. You should see the JobKeeper menu on your screen as usual
  3. Scroll down to the heading JobKeeper Extension and under Check Decline in Turnover click on the Check button for the quarter you are applying for.
  4. Decline in Turnover Test Percentage – you should see this showing as 30%. You don’t need to do anything here.
  5. September/December Quarter 2020 Turnover Amount
    • If you are GST-registered and you have lodged your latest BAS this should be filled in for you. It is calculated as G1 minus 1A on your BAS.
    • If you are not GST-registered you just need to enter your gross income (i.e. before deducting delivery company fees and other expenses) for the quarter, and you will need to tick the box saying ‘Haven’t lodged activity statement’.
  6. September/December Quarter 2019 Turnover Amount
    • If you are GST-registered and you have lodged your BAS for the comparison quarter this should be filled in for you also. It is calculated as G1 minus 1A on that BAS.
    • If you not GST-registered, you just need to enter your gross income (i.e. before deducting delivery company fees and other expenses) for the quarter, and you will need to tick the box saying ‘Haven’t lodged activity statement’.
    • If the comparison quarter is not appropriate for you and you will be using one of the Alternative Tests you must tick which test you are using and then enter the turnover you have calculated under the alternative test rules.
  7. Click the Check button and the system will verify whether you’ve passed the 30% decline in turnover tests and are eligible for the JobKeeper Extension. Tick the required declaration and submit, and print a copy for your records.

For more information on this process visit the ATO’s information page:

2) Submit your Maintain Employees form for the 80 Hours Test as part of your November Monthly Declaration.

The name of this form is confusing because, as I mentioned earlier, when you are a sole trader you are not an employee, you are a Business Participant. So please be careful to fill in Employees as 0 and Business Participants as 1.

First, work out whether you are over or under the 80 Hours threshold. Then, when preparing your November Monthly Declaration you will be asked to go to the Maintain Employees form. As a sole trader your details should already be shown as the Eligible Business Participant. Your JobKeeper status should already be showing too, but if it isn’t you should choose FN 14 and FN 15 (or if you are joining JobKeeper later then the earliest option available). Then select your Tier based on the 80 hours test above. Once you’re ready hit Save and Continue and you’re done.

3) Submit your Monthly Declaration as usual.

Once you have completed these steps you’ll just need to complete your Monthly Declaration as you have previously. You can find detailed instructions below.

How Do I Lodge The JobKeeper Monthly Declaration

After the end of each month you must advise the ATO of your turnover for the month just gone and your estimated turnover for the month ahead. The Monthly Declaration form will open on the 1st day of the following month, and you will get your next monthly JobKeeper payment 3-4 business days after you submit the form. 

Step 1) First you will need to calculate your Turnover for the month that just ended. Note that this will not affect your eligibility, this is only for the ATO’s data and statistics. So don’t be worried if the figures below aren’t perfect, they will be close enough for the ATO’s purposes and they will not affect your payments.

  • If you drive for Uber – if your Uber Monthly Summary is available, add up the Total under Fare Breakdown + the Total under Other Income Breakdown (i.e. the two top sections), and divide by 1.1 to exclude the GST. If your Monthly Summary is not available just add up your bank deposits and enter that figure (don’t divide by 1.1 in this case, the GST adjustment and the adjustment for Uber fees more or less cancel each other out).
  • If you drive for DiDi – if your Monthly Tax Summary is available, add up all of the numbers on the left-hand side only, and divide by 1.1 to exclude the GST. Or if your Monthly Tax Summary is not available, just use your bank deposits directly
  • If you drive for other rideshare companies, they don’t break down their fees in the same way Uber does, so you can just use your bank deposits and divide by 1.1.
  • If you drive for UberEats – if your Uber Monthly Summary is available, add up the Total under Fare Breakdown + the Total under Other Income Breakdown (i.e. the two top sections). If your Monthly Summary is not available just add up your bank deposits and multiply by 1.25.
  • if you drive for other food delivery companies – just add up your bank deposits
  • If you did not drive at all, then your answer will be $0
  • If you have other income on your ABN, you must include this also (exclusive of GST)

Step 2) Next you must estimate your Projected Turnover for the Next Month, based on the same calculations above. This does not have to be exact, the ATO understands that estimating is difficult in these current times. Your estimate will not affect your eligibility for JobKeeper,  again it is only for the ATO’s statistics.

Step 3) Log into MyGov (be careful to use trusted links and avoid scams), and follow the links for COVID-19 and JobKeeper. You should see your first step of Enrolment completed (if not go, back to Part 1 above). Click the button for Step 3 which is Declare.

Step 4) Fill in the questions as follows:

  • Under the heading GST Turnover, you must fill in two figures:
    • Current Month Turnover – this is the month that just ended. Fill in your total as calculated above
    • Projected Turnover for Coming Month – this is the month that just began. Fill in your estimate as calculated above
  • Check your bank details are correct
  • Confirm and Submit

Step 5) Your payment should arrive 3-4 business days after you submit this form.

*Important* If you are currently receiving the JobSeeker Payment you MUST continue to advise Centrelink of your JobKeeper Payments as part of reporting your income. Otherwise they may overpay you and you will have to pay it back. In terms of timing, just look at the date your JobKeeper payment arrived in your bank, that is the relevant date when you report the income to Centrelink. It doesn’t matter that the money relates to previous JobKeeper fortnights, Centrelink only looks at the date you actually received the money.

How Do I Apply for JobKeeper for the First Time?

Applying for JobKeeper is done in three steps:

1) The first step is Enrolment. This is where you will calculate and confirm your eligibility for JobKeeper Payments. The eligibility notes above will help you answer this question.

2) The second step is Identification. Here you will confirm your number of employees (zero) and number of business participants (one = you). Then you will confirm your hours based on the notes above.

3) The third step is the Monthly Declaration. You must submit this after the end of each month. You will confirm your turnover for that month, and estimate your turnover for the month ahead. You’ll find the instructions above as well. Then you will receive your monthly JobKeeper Payment 3-4 business days later.

All of these steps are completed in MyGov, so you will need to register for MyGov if you haven’t already. If you cannot register for MyGov you can call the ATO’s coronavirus hotline on 1800 806 218.

*Important* If you are currently receiving the JobSeeker Payment you MUST advise Centrelink of your JobKeeper Payment when you next report your income. Otherwise they may overpay you and you will have to pay it back. In terms of timing, just look at the date your JobKeeper payment arrived in your bank, that is the relevant date when you report the income to Centrelink. It doesn’t matter that the money relates to previous JobKeeper fortnights, Centrelink only looks at the date you actually received the money.

Can I Keep Driving?

With the JobKeeper Extensions the ATO have changed the rules on this. Now, in order to get JobKeeper you must show that your income is still 30% lower than pre-COVID levels (previously they had told everyone they could work as much as they wanted).

Each of the JobKeeper Extensions lasts for three months. So once you have met the eligibility requirements for that quarter you can go ahead and drive as much as you like, and you will still receive the next three monthly payments.

BUT, if you want to also receive JobKeeper for the following quarter you can still earn some income, but you must make sure you’re still 30% below the relevant comparison period, as explained above. Alternatively if you’re happy not to get Jobkeeper next quarter (or you know you’ll be over the 30% limit regardless) then you might as well go ahead and drive as much as you can, and you will still receive the remaining JobKeeper payments for the current quarter.

Do I Have To Keep Driving?

What if you don’t want to return to driving when lockdowns are lifted due to the health and safety concerns of coronavirus? That is 100% acceptable as well. The JobKeeper rules require that your business is ‘active’, but that can include being dormant or ‘in hibernation’. At this stage there are no minimum income levels or working hours to receive JobKeeper.

The only thing I recommend you do is be sure to keep your ABN and your GST registration (if applicable) active, and just lodge Nil BAS’s for the quarters where you don’t drive (if you’re a rideshare driver). This will show the ATO that you intend to return to driving when safe to do so.

Entering JobKeeper In Your DriveTax Spreadsheet

* Updated for Version 2020.06 of the spreadsheet *

Version 2020.06 – The new version of the spreadsheet, released in late June 2020, has been updated to include JobKeeper. You’ll find this in the orange section of the spreadsheet. There are two important rules to keep in mind:

  • Timing of Payments – JobKeeper payments are recognised by the ATO on the date you receive the payment. It doesn’t matter if the payment relates to earlier fortnights or months, it only matters which date it arrived in your bank account. For example, you received payments for fortnights 5 and 6 which were in June 2020, and the payment reached your bank account in July 2020. You should enter this in the July JobKeeper field of your 2020-2021 spreadsheet, and it is declared in your 2021 tax return.
  • Don’t include Employee JobKeeper – if you received JobKeeper from an employer, do not include it in your spreadsheet. Only JobKeeper payments you received as a sole trader under your ABN must be included.

Version 2020.02 – When I built the previous version of the spreadsheet back in February, I could never have imagined something like coronavirus and JobKeeper, so unfortunately the spreadsheet isn’t built to manage a payment like this! But that’s okay, you do not have to change spreadsheets. Just follow the Tax Return instructions below to enter your JobKeeper payments directly into your tax return. I recommend that you keep using your existing spreadsheet until 30 June and then switch to the new version from 1 July. (You should have received the new version via email on the 27th of June, please email me if you didn’t receive it).

If you don’t already have the DriveTax Spreadsheet, jump up to the very top of the page and enter your email address to get your free copy!

Do Not Declare JobKeeper In Your BAS

JobKeeper payments are not considered ‘Sales’, so they are not included in your BAS, and GST does not apply.

Declaring JobKeeper & JobSeeker In Your Tax Return

How to declare your government COVID-19 benefits depends on how you received them. Here’s what you need to do:

  • JobSeeker from Centrelink – Centrelink will put your JobSeeker payments into your prefilling report in MyGov, similar to an employee payment summary. You’ll declare your JobSeeker payments at Item 5 in your tax return, ‘Australian Government Allowances and Payments’. If you prepare your tax return on MyTax this should automatically import to Item 5 from your prefill. Or if you lodge your tax return through DriveTax you don’t have to supply anything, we will download your information from the ATO for you.
  • JobKeeper from your Employer – if you are an employee and got JobKeeper through your employer it will be included in your end of year Payment Summary. It won’t be separately listed, just included in your total wages. So you just have to declare your employee wages in your tax return as normal. Again this should come through in your prefilling report automatically. (Remember it’s not compulsory for employers to give you a payment summary anymore because it’s available on MyGov)
  • JobKeeper as a Sole Trader – if you are not an employee and you got JobKeeper through your ABN as a sole trader, then you must add your JobKeeper payments into the business schedule of your tax return. Look for a field called ‘Assessable Government Industry Payments’ in the income section of the business schedule and enter your JobKeeper payments there. Remember to only include payments that you received to your bank account during the financial year. So in our example from earlier, if you received JobKeeper payments for fortnights 5 and 6 which were in June 2020 then the payment would have reached your bank account in July 2020 (which is the 2021 financial year). So do not include that payment in your 2020 tax return, it belongs in your 2021 tax return. The maximum you will declare in your 2020 tax return is $6,000, being the payments you received to your bank in May and June. Or if you missed the first JobKeeper payments and started from the second one then you will have $3,000 to declare.

More Information

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JobSeeker and Centrelink For Uber Drivers

JobSeeker is very complex, and there is too much detail for me to cover in this blog post. For general information about JobSeeker, including payment rates, eligibility and how to apply, please visit Centrelink’s website.

Applying For The JobSeeker Payment As An Uber Driver

If you are applying for the JobSeeker Payment, here are a few quick tips about some of the specific questions Centrelink will ask about your rideshare and food delivery income.

  • Employment – note that Uber and UberEats is not employment, so do not write Uber as your employer.  For employment you must only include jobs where you were an employee under your TFN.
  • Business –
    • If you do Uber, rideshare or food delivery, then this is classed as Business.
    • In the preliminary questions you should answer that you’re involved in one business in Australia (or more if you have other income on your ABN aside from rideshare/food delivery), and that you do not operate through a company, you are a sole-trader.
    • For the question asking if you’re still trading, answer yes if you’re still driving even a little and enter your hours accordingly. If you’ve stopped driving altogether you can answer no, but you will be asked to provide evidence, which will mean cancelling your ABN and GST Registration. You can do this by calling the ATO on 13 28 66. Then once you ABN record has updated on the Australian Business Register you can save a PDF of this screen and upload it to Centrelink. I’m not sure whether it may be easier to just report you’re still trading and list one hour of Uber driving? Let me know what works for you!
    • The last question in this section asks if your income has changed since your last tax return. If your Uber income has decreased because of Coronavirus you should answer yes.
  • Income & Expenses – For instructions on reporting your income and expenses please scroll down below to the section ‘How to Complete a Centrelink Profit & Loss’.
  • Assets & Liabilities – type these into a document, save it as a PDF, and then upload this to the ATO.
    • If you own your car you will list it as an asset, and if you have a loan you’ll list that as a liability. For most Uber drivers these will be the only items on your list.
    • If you rent or lease your car then you do not own it, so don’t include it here
    • If you have outstanding ATO debts these are also liabilities, but don’t include BAS’s or tax returns you haven’t lodged yet.
    • If you keep a bank account that is 100% for Uber then you should include it as an asset.
    • Your personal/general bank accounts and credit cards should not be included
    • No need to list small assets such as your mobile phone.
  • Depreciation Schedule – This question is more for bigger businesses with lots of assets such as retail stores or construction companies, it’s not so important for a very small business with only a car. If your car was depreciated in your last tax return, answer yes when they ask you if you have a depreciation schedule and send them that page from your tax return. If not, you can use the ATO’s depreciation calculator, or just answer no that you do not have a depreciation schedule. (Please let me know via email if this works and I’ll update this post accordingly!)
  • Balance Sheet – answer no to this question, the ATO doesn’t require micro-businesses such as rideshare drivers to generate Balance Sheets.

How To Complete A Centrelink Profit & Loss

If Centrelink have asked you to fill out their Profit & Loss Form, here are some tips to help you.

  • Dates – Centrelink should tell you which dates they want you to report for, as it may be a month or a quarter or a year. Enter the dates at the bottom of page 1 at question 10.
  • Gross Income – This is entered at the top of page 2 on Centrelink’s form, Label A.
    • Rideshare & Food Delivery Income – Add up the total payments you received in your bank account from Uber and any other companies you drive/deliver for. If you are registered for GST then divide your total by 1.1. If you are not registered for GST then do not divide.
    • JobKeeper Income – you must include your JobKeeper income here. GST does not apply to JobKeeper so do not divide by 1.1.
  • Depreciation – Depreciation is the most difficult question, so if you want to skip it and write $0 that is okay, especially if your car is older and the depreciation is low.  If you do want to enter depreciation,  the form asks you to calculate your year total and then divide that by the period of time you’re reporting for. So if for example you’re reporting a month worth of income and expenses, you’ll write both your whole year’s depreciation and then your depreciation divided by 12.
    • If you claimed depreciation on your car in your 2019 tax return under the small business rules, check your ‘SBE Pool Closing Balance’. Assuming you’ll write this balance off in your 2020 tax return now that the write-off threshold has been increased to $150,000, your Closing Balance from 2019 will be your depreciation claim for 2020.
    • If you bought a car from the 1st of July 2019 to the 11th of March 2020 costing below $30,000, or from the 12th of March to the 30th of June 2020 costing below $150,000, then your depreciation is 100% of the cost of the car excluding GST
    • If you bought a car during the 2020 financial year that was over the relevant threshold at the purchase date, then your depreciation will be 15% of the purchase price excluding GST.
    • If you used regular depreciation instead of small business depreciation (i.e. 25% diminishing value) you’ll need to check the ATO website or talk to your accountant.
  • Insurance – enter your annual car insurance multiplied by your business percentage, if you are GST registered then divide by 1.1, and then divide that across the period of time you’re reporting for on your Centrelink form.
  • Interest – if you have a car loan you’ll need to check your account for your interest. Don’t forget to adjust for your business use percentage. Then divide for the period of time you’re reporting for.
  • Levies, Licences & Fees – for Uber drivers this might include driver authorisations, licences, permits and so on. Enter your annual totals and then divide for the period of time you’re reporting for.
  • Registration – your car registration multiplied by your business percentage, then divide for the period of time you’re reporting for.
  • Rent and Rates – this does not apply. Do not include your home here, this is only meant for retail stores or workshops who rent commercial premises.
  • Motor Vehicle Running Costs – add up all your fuel, maintenance, and any other car expenses not included above from your bank transactions and multiply by your business percentage. If you rent your rideshare vehicle, include it here too. (If you have a loan, do not include your repayments here, instead enter your interest and depreciation as above.) If you are GST registered then divide GST expenses by 1.1,
  • Telephone – your mobile phone bills multiplied by your business use percentage (just an estimated percentage is fine), and if you are GST registered then divide by 1.1.
  • Other – this may include tolls (but only tolls between trips, the tolls while on trips are already included in your Uber payments), water, mints, and any other Uber related expenses. If you are GST registered then divide any GST expenses by 1.1,
  • Expenses You Can’t Include – donations, personal health or life insurance, superannuation contributions, coffees, meals, clothing, personal expenses, fines, carried forward losses, or the purchase price of a car.

Centrelink understand that the application process is difficult for small businesses. They don’t expect you to know all the tax laws yourself, and they know not everyone can afford to have an accountant do it for them. So please don’t be worried, it’s okay to just fill out the forms as best you can, and if they have further questions for you they will ask you.

Other ATO Coronavirus Support for Uber Drivers

Please note that in all of the options below, the ATO still requires you to lodge your BAS’s and tax returns on time, even if you’re not able to pay right away. The ATO are generally happy to put payment arrangements in place that will work for you in your current circumstances, but first you must submit your lodgements on time and have no overdue BAS’s or tax returns.

Here are the links to our BAS Lodgment and Tax Return Lodgment pages. I’ll be fast-tracking our services for anyone who needs their BAS or tax return lodged in order to access Centrelink benefits ASAP.

If you’re not able to lodge your tax return or BAS because you can’t afford to pay accountant’s fees right now, the ATO will understand. Call the ATO’s Emergency Support line on 1800 806 218 before the due date and chat to them about alternative arrangements.

Standard Payment Arrangements

You can set up a standard payment arrangement for any tax bill via your MyGov or by calling the ATO’s automated service. A standard payment arrangement requires you to pay 10%-20% up front and then the rest over a period of up to two years.

If you need more time to pay due to COVID-19, you can call and talk to the ATO. They may be able to offer deferred due dates for payments that were due after the 23rd of January, and also low interest or interest-free payment arrangements. You will need to call the ATO’s Emergency Support line on 1800 806 218.

PAYG Instalments

If you have to pay PAYG Instalments as part of your quarterly BAS, but your income is now lower, you can reduce your PAYG Instalments, and in some cases claim back instalments for previous quarters. We can help you with this as part of our Express BAS service.

If your income has not reduced, but you need cashflow relief now, you can call the ATO’s Emergency Support line on 1800 806 218 and ask them to withdraw your PAYG Instalments. However you will still need to pay the tax eventually on your end of year tax return.

Instant Asset Write-Off

The ATO has increased the Instant Asset Write-Off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 until the 31st of December 2020. This applies both to new or used car purchases and also to existing assets that are still being depreciated in your tax return. If you choose to prepare your tax return through DriveTax we will chat to you about claiming the Write-Off as part of preparing your tax return.

Other Coronavirus Support For Rideshare Drivers

Banks

The four major banks have agreed on a range of measures, including lowering interest rates and repayment holidays of up to six months. You will need to contact your bank directly to find out about their specific eligibility requirements.

Rent

The government is currently working on measures for renters and landlords as a priority, and we should expect announcements in the next few days. I’ll update this post as soon as we have news.

Early Release of Super

Eligible individuals will be allowed to access up to $10,000 from their superannuation before the 1st of July 2020, and another $10,000 from the 1st of July 2020 until the 31st of December 2020. Note that with markets low right now, withdrawing from super will have a large impact on your long-term retirement savings. So you should consider this a last resort, and if you are able to you should first seek financial advice. Many super funds can provide this for you free of charge.

Beware Of Scams

We are seeing many reports of scammers taking advantage of people during these already difficult times. Here are some tips on how to stay safe:

  • If a company or government asks you to register or to input ANY personal information be very cautious. Go to that company’s website and independently check it is legitimate, then login or register directly from their website. If you email or call them, use the contact details on their website, not on the email you received as they may be fake.
  • Remember, legitimate organisations, including the ATO, Centrelink, banks, government departments, Amazon, PayPal, Google, Apple and Facebook – will never call or email you to verify or update your personal information. If  you recieve a request like this it is almost certainly a scam.
  • When logging into an online account, never go there by clicking on an email or social media link. Instead, go your internet browser and type in the web address, use your bookmarks or favourites if you already have the site saved, or use Google. It’s safer to assume that email links are malicious and navigate to your accounts the long way instead.
  • Whenever you’re entering personal information online, get into the habit of first checking the URL (the ‘www’ address) at the top of your internet browser. Lots of scam websites trick you by just having one letter different, or having a different ending (the .com or .com.au or .net part). You can double-check by Googling the company’s main website. If you’re using a Government service like the ATO or Centrelink, the web address should always end in .gov.au.
  • If you’re unsure about an email, check the email address of the sender to make sure it’s the same as other times the company has contacted you. You can also put the sender’s email address into Google to see if anyone reports malicious activity. On a computer you can hover your mouse over web links to see if they look authentic before you click them. Never open an email attachment that you weren’t already expecting to receive.
  • Also beware of false coronavirus or health information, and don’t rely on social media or word of mouth for news or advice. Trusted websites like Australia.gov.au and ABC News are your best sources of information.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre has put together a detailed guide to the cyber threats that have arisen in connection to coronavirus, including specific scams that have been circulating. You can read more here:

More Coronavirus Information & Support

ATO

For more information from the ATO about tax measures related to COVID-19, please visit their website here:

Centrelink

You can find Centrelink’s COVID-19 response page here:

Australian Government

For health, financial and general information about COVID-19, head to Australia.gov:

UberPeople

Also, don’t forget there are many Uber, rideshare and food delivery drivers out there who are sharing your frustrations and worries. Community is a great source of support, so be sure to visit the UberPeople online forum to connect with other Australian rideshare drivers.

That’s all for now. I hope this information was helpful for you, and I will continue to update it with any major developments that are directly relevant to you as a rideshare or food delivery driver. Please feel free to post or share this page with anyone you think might find it valuable. Here’s the link:

I wish you and all drivers out there the very best in these complicated times.

– Jess Murray, Director of DriveTax

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.
Jess is on a mission to make taxes straightforward and manageable for Uber drivers across Australia.

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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