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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 Tuesday 21st of July 2020

JobKeeper Changes in September: On the 21st of July the government announced changes to JobKeeper that will be effective from the 28th of September onwards.

This means you will still get the $1,500 September JobKeeper payment that would be paid to you in early October under the old rules, with no eligibility test. The first payment under the new rules will be the payment for October that would be paid to your bank account in early November.

There will be new eligibility tests in order to keep receiving JobKeeper payments beyond the 28th of September (i.e. the early November payment) so that only people who still have decreased income will continue to receive the payments.

Business owners must pass the relevant ‘30% decline in turnover’ test for both the June 2020 quarter and September 2020 quarter compared to the same quarters in 2019 (there will be alternative tests but I don’t have that information yet).

This means if your income has increased back up to within 30% of pre-COVID levels you will no longer be eligible for JobKeeper after your early October payment. However if there is a new lockdown in your city in the future and you have to stop driving again and you pass the 30% test again then you can go back on JobKeeper. 

Also, the JobKeeper payment amount will decrease from the 28th of September (i.e. the early November payment), and the amount you receive will now depend on how many hours you worked on average in the month of February 2020:

  • If in February 2020 you worked on average 20+ hours per week your JobKeeper payment will go down as follows:
    • $1,200/fn from 28th of September 2020 to 3rd January 2021
    • $1,000/fn from 3rd of January 2021 to 28th of March 2021
  • If in February 2020 you worked on average less than 20 hours per week your JobKeeper payment will go down as follows:
    • $750/fn from 28th of September 2020 to 3rd January 2021
    • $650/fn from 3rd of January 2021 to 28th of March 2021

I do not have details yet on how hours will be measured, how alternative eligibility tests will work, and all the other questions I know you may have.

I will do my best to post more information when I receive it, but I am extremely busy with tax time so it may take me a while. I’m sorry I cannot answer questions via email. Instead please keep checking back here. As soon as I have more information I will post it here first! 

 

JobKeeper Monthly Declaration on MyGov: To receive your JobKeeper payment each month you must submit your Monthly Declaration on MyGov. Your payment will then arrive 3-4 business days later. 

Entering JobKeeper Payments in the DriveTax Spreadsheet: If you use the DriveTax Bookkeeping Spreadsheet I’ve added instructions below on how to enter your JobKeeper payments in your spreadsheet. If you don’t yet have the spreadsheet, subscribe above to get a free copy.

Declaring JobKeeper and JobSeeker on your BAS & Tax Return: JobKeeper and JobSeeker are not included in your BAS, but they must be included in your tax return. How to declare them depends on what kind of payment you received, jump down to the link below to learn more.

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

With the spread of the Coronavirus, Uber and Rideshare drivers are one of many industries being hit hard. I’m speaking to many drivers right now who are struggling with fewer trips, much lower income and of course concerns for their health and safety.

The Australian government and media is telling us that there are Centrelink payments for Uber and rideshare drivers, and that the ATO is also offering coronavirus support. But exact details are hard to find, and I’m hearing lots of people are confused about how to get help.

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

Things are changing every day, but I’ll keep this as up to date as I can. Please note that I do not specialise in Centrelink or welfare payments and so I cannot advise on your specific eligibility, you will need to contact Centrelink by phone or online. But I hope the information here will give you a clearer picture and explain your next steps.

Centrelink for Uber Drivers – TWO OPTIONS

The Australian Government has now provided two alternative options that are relevant to Uber Drivers:

  • Option 1 – JobKeeper Payment – $1,500 per fortnight, administered through the ATO
  • Option 2 – JobSeeker Payment + Coronavirus Supplement – around $1,100 per fortnight, administered through Centrelink

JobKeeper vs JobSeeker – Which One Is Better?

The JobKeeper Payment is the one that puts the most money in your pocket.

If you’re not 100% sure you’re eligible for the JobKeeper Payment, I recommend registering your Intent To Claim for the JobSeeker Payment now as well, just in case (instructions below). That way, if it turns out you can’t get JobKeeper you can then submit your application for JobSeeker (it’s a long and painful process so you don’t want to do it unless absolutely necessary!) and the ATO will backdate your JobSeeker Payment to the date you registered your intent.

OPTION ONE – ATO JobKeeper Payment for Uber Drivers

The JobKeeper Payment was announced on the 30th of March. The payment is intended to keep Australian businesses and employees ‘in hibernation’ until the coronavirus crisis passes. The JobKeeper Payment is the largest payment available for Uber and rideshare drivers and sole-traders. You can find the ATO’s JobKeeper information page especially for sole traders here:

How Does JobKeeper Work?

Sole Traders will receive $1,500 per fortnight if their turnover has declined by more than 30%. The amount of $1,500 is the same for everyone regardless of how much or how little they were earning on their ABN. The ATO will pay the money at the end of each month once the sole-trader has reported the month’s turnover.

The JobKeeper Payment will start on the 30th March, with the first payments to be received by sole traders in the first week of May. Payments will run for a maximum of six months.

To answer a frequently asked question, yes you can still keep driving while you’re receiving the JobKeeper Payment if you want to. You do not have to pass the 30% decline test again, so you do not need to keep your income below 70%. You only need to continue meeting the other eligibility criteria, which is primarily that you don’t have a full time or part time job.

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?

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 your must show that your turnover “has fallen or is likely to fall by at least 30% relative to a corresponding period a year ago”. You can choose any of the following periods to compare:

  • March 2020 compared to March 2019
  • Projected April 2020 turnover compared to April 2019
  • Projected April-June 2020 quarter turnover compared to April-June 2019 quarter

To answer a frequently asked question, if you drive for multiple companies (Uber, DiDi, Ola etc), they are added together for the purposes of the 30% test. This is because as a sole-trader you do not have ‘jobs’, you are running a business, so all of your rideshare and food delivery income forms part of your one business under your one ABN.

If you don’t meet the 30% decline rule but your income has dropped below $1,075 per fortnight you can apply for the JobSeeker Payment instead.

How To Calculate Turnover

Turnover is your gross income before deducting your expenses. To calculate your Uber turnover, refer to your Uber monthly tax summary. Turnover = the Total under ‘Fare Breakdown’ + the Total under ‘Other Income Breakdown’ (i.e. the two top sections).  Do not subtract Uber Fees or any other items, and do not subtract GST.

If you drive for other companies the process is similar, just add up all of the income items, do not subtract any fees and do not adjust for GST

Alternative Tests

The ATO have now published the Alternative Turnover Tests for cases where the basic 30% turnover test isn’t appropriate in your particular circumstances. Here’s how they work:

  • If you were not driving a year ago you can calculate your comparison month as follows:
    • If you started driving 1 May 19 – 30 Nov 19, you can choose from either of the following tests:
      • take your turnover for Dec 19 + Jan 20 + Feb 20 and divide that by 3
      • take your turnover for each whole month up to including Feb 20 (i.e. don’t include the month you started driving, use the month after you started driving through to the month of February) and divide that by the number of whole months in that time.
    • If you started driving 1 Dec 19 – 31 Jan 20, take your turnover for each whole month up to including Feb 20 (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 in that time. However please note that if you started driving in Jan, 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 20 – 29 Feb 20, take your turnover for Feb, divide by the number of days since you started driving until the end of Feb, and then multiply by 2019. 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, for example a year ago you were driving part time and more recently 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 applicable turnover test period (March or April), OR
      • Your turnover increased by 25% in the 6 months immediately before the applicable turnover test period (March or April), OR
      • Your turnover increased by 12.5% in the 3 months immediately before the applicable turnover test period (March or April)
    • If you pass one of those tests, then your comparison month is calculated as follows:
      • Turnover for Dec 19 + Jan 20 + Feb 20 divided by 3, compared to March 20
      • Turnover for Jan 20 + Feb 20 + March 20 divided by 3, compared to April 20
  • If you had an injury, sickness or leave, for example you were on an overseas holiday last year in March and April) you can use the month immediately after the month in which you return to work as you comparison month

Note that you can only use these Alternative Tests if the specified circumstances apply to you. For example if you were driving a year ago you must use the primary test, you cannot choose to use the alternative tests for people not driving a year ago.  Also note that the ATO have specifically said “the Commissioner cannot make discretionary decisions for individual entities”.

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 of $1,500/fn (before tax) 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 lose your job entirely then you can claim the JobKeeper Payment as a sole-trader if you meet all the eligibility rules, or if you can’t pass the 30% test then you can claim the JobSeeker Payment 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.

As a final note, remember, if you’re not entitled to the JobKeeper Payment there will still be the JobSeeker Payment, so you won’t be left with nothing. But I know the JobKeeper Payment is more money so of course that’s the one you would have preferred to get. I’m sorry this is bad news.  In the meantime, scroll down to learn more about 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 of you, and although I very much hope that the Government will change their minds, at the moment they have said they will not expand these rules. I know this is an important question, so I will keep listening for more information and I will update this post right away if there is any more news.

How Do I Apply for JobKeeper?

Applying for JobKeeper is done in three steps:

1) The first step is Enrolment which opened on April 20. This is where you will calculate and confirm your eligibility for JobKeeper Payments.

2) The second step is Identification for the first month of payments, which opened on May 4th. Here you will confirm your number of employees (zero) and number of business participants (one = you), and confirm eligibility for payments for April. Then you will receive your JobKeeper Payment three business days later.

3) The third step, starting in early June, is the Monthly Declaration. You must submit this after the end of each month from June until October. You will confirm your turnover for that month, and estimate your turnover for the month ahead. Then you will receive your monthly JobKeeper Payment three 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, but be prepared for a long wait time.

Remember if you receive JobSeeker you MUST report your JobKeeper payments to Centrelink when you report your fortnightly income. Otherwise they will overpay you and you will have to pay it back.

Part 1 – Enrolment

Enrolments opened back on the 20th of April. If you wish to enrol for payments backdated to the 30th of March you must enrol by the 31st of May. If you were not eligible for March or April but you become eligible in later months you can still enrol after the 31st of May, but you won’t get those first month’s payments.  Here’s how to enrol:

Step 1) Confirm that you pass all of the eligibility criteria mentioned above. The ATO will not assess your eligibility, you must do it yourself. If you enrol, and the ATO later find out you are not eligible then they will make you pay back the money you receive.

Step 2) Once you have confirmed you are eligible, log into your MyGov by heading to my.gov.au. For security reasons, never click on a link in an email, always type in the address yourself.

Step 3) Navigate to your ATO Business Portal and you should see a link for COVID-19. From there navigate to JobKeeper, and click on ‘Enrol Business for JobKeeper Wage Subsidies’

Step 4) Fill in the Enrolment Form. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Reduction in turnover – nominate which period you have experienced a 30% reduction in turnover compared to the same period last year. Most drivers were still driving in early March, so you will need to check carefully if your March 2020 Uber Monthly Summary (plus any other companies you drove/delivered for) is 30% less than March 2019. If you don’t pass this test, then do the same check for April 2020 compared to April 2019, which I’m sure most of you will pass. If you were not driving a year ago, see the section above titled ‘Alternative Tests’.
  • Eligible employees – answer zero to these questions
  • Are you enrolling as a sole trader – answer yes to this question
  • Do you meet the eligibility criteria – these are discussed in the ‘Am I Eligible’ section above if you need more information
  • Financial institution details for employing entity – this is just your regular personal bank account number. For account name, enter your name, not your bank’s name.

I’m sorry I simply cannot answer email questions about JobKeeper applications. There’s only one of me and not enough hours in the day to individually help you all! So instead I have done my best to make this blog post as detailed and helpful as possible, and to answer every question you may have right here. 

Part 2 – Identification

The next step of the process is identification. This opened on the 4th of May and closes on the 31st of May, and can be completed on MyGov or by calling the ATO’s coronavirus hotline on 1800 806 218 (expect a long wait time).

Step 1) First you will need to calculate your Turnover for April 2020. Note that this will not affect your eligibility, your eligibility was locked in when you enrolled. This is only for the ATO’s data and statistics. So don’t worry about the 30% rule, that does not apply here and is no longer relevant going forwards.

  • 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 Uber Monthly Summary is not available then we must use the Weekly Summaries
    • In your Uber account go to Payment Statements > Statements. Find the first payment for April and click View Statement.
    • Add up all of the positive numbers, do not include the negative numbers. This is your Turnover for the week.
    • Repeat this for all of the weeks where the Payment Date is in April.
  • If you drive for DiDi
    • If your Monthly Tax Summary is available, add up all of the numbers on the left hand side only
    • If your Monthly Tax Summary is not available, just use your bank deposits
  • If you drive for other rideshare or food delivery companies, they don’t break down their fees in the same way Uber does, so you can just use 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 (inclusive of GST)
  • JobSeeker payments are not included in Turnover (don’t forget to notify them when you JobKeeper payments begin!)

Step 2) Next you must estimate your Projected Turnover for May 2020. 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.

  • For Uber, estimate your bank deposits for the month, and then multiply by 1.4. This is an approximation to add back Uber’s Service Fee, Booking Fees, Split Fare Fees etc which must be included in ‘Turnover’. Again, remember this does not affect your JobKeeper or your taxes, it is just an estimate for the ATO to use in their own projections, so it does not need to be exact.
  • For Didi, estimate your bank deposits for the month, and then multiply by 1.15.
  • For other rideshare and delivery companies, just estimate the total you would receive in your bank account for the month.
  • If you do not plan to drive at all, then your answer will be $0
  • If you have other income on your ABN, you must include this also (inclusive of GST)
  • JobSeeker payments are not included in Turnover

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 part 2 which is Identify.

Step 4) Fill in the questions as follows:

  • Select Month – April
  • JobKeeper Status – Claim FN 1 & 2
  • Add Eligible Employees – No
  • Click Next
  • Turnover for April – fill in your total as calculated above
  • Projected Turnover for May – fill in your estimate as calculated above
  • Check your bank details are correct
  • Confirm and Submit

Once you have completed this process the ATO will send your JobKeeper Payment three business days later (although your bank may have extra processing time). That is the end of the process for now, until next month.

Step 5)  *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.

Part 3 – Monthly Declaration

After the end of each month you must repeat the monthly totals and estimates in order to receive your payments. next step of the process is identification. The first Monthly Declaration will be in the first week of June. You will get your next monthly JobKeeper payment 3-4 business days after you submit the form. You will repeat this each month until October (the last JobKeeper month is September).

The form and submission process is essentially the same as the Identify form in Step 2 above.

Step 1) First you will need to calculate your Turnover for the month that just ended. Note that this will not affect your eligibility, your eligibility was locked in when you enrolled. This is only for the ATO’s data and statistics. So don’t worry about the 30% rule, that does not apply here.

  • 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 Uber Monthly Summary is not available then we must use the Weekly Summaries
    • In your Uber account go to Payment Statements > Statements. Find the first payment for the month and click View Statement.
    • Add up all of the positive numbers, do not include the negative numbers. This is your Turnover for the week.
    • Repeat this for all of the weeks where the Payment Date is in the month you are declaring for.
  • If you drive for DiDi
    • If your Monthly Tax Summary is available, add up all of the numbers on the left hand side only
    • If your Monthly Tax Summary is not available, just use your bank deposits
  • If you drive for other rideshare or food delivery companies, they don’t break down their fees in the same way Uber does, so you can just use 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 (inclusive of GST)

Step 2) Next you must estimate your Projected Turnover for the Next Month. 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.

  • For Uber, estimate your bank deposits for the month, and then multiply by 1.4. This is an approximation to add back Uber’s Service Fee, Booking Fees, Split Fare Fees etc which must be included in ‘Turnover’. Again, remember this does not affect your JobKeeper or your taxes, it is just an estimate for the ATO to use in their own projections, so it does not need to be exact.
  • For other rideshare and delivery companies, just estimate the total you would receive in your bank account for the month.
  • If you do not plan to drive at all, then your answer will be $0
  • If you have other income on your ABN, you must include this also (inclusive of GST)

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

Again, your payment should arrive 3-4 business days after you submit this form (although your bank may have extra processing time).

Step 5)  *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.

Can I (Or Do I Have To) Keep Driving?

Once you have qualified for JobKeeper (e.g. by passing the 30% decline in turnover test) and enrolled with the ATO (Step 1 above), your sole-trader business is automatically eligible for JobKeeper right through until it ends at the end of September, there are no further income or eligibility tests. This means you are free to earn as much income on your ABN as you can, you do not have to stay below 30%.  (Do note that it’s possible that you become an ineligible person, for example if you take a part-time or full-time employee job then you must stop claiming JobKeeper as a sole-trader.)

*Update* There will be eligibility tests in order to keep receiving JobKeeper payments beyond the 28th of September. Please see the notes at the top of this post for more detail.

On the other side of the coin, what if you don’t want to return to driving right away 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’. Your income or working hours are not a factor in your eligibility. 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.

FAQ’s

  • Eligibility – How To Calculate Turnover – scroll up to the section above titled ‘Am I Eligible for JobKeeper – How To Calculate Turnover’
  • Eligibility – Not Trading A Year Ago – scroll up to the section above titled ‘Am I Eligible for JobKeeper – Alternative Tests’
  • Eligibility – Late Lodging Tax Returns or BAS’s – scroll up to the section above titled ‘Am I Eligible for JobKeeper – BAS & Tax Lodgments’
  • Calculating & Estimating Turnover – see Part 2, Steps 1 & 2

One last note, if you are currently receiving JobSeeker Payment you must report your JobKeeper Payment when you report your income to Centrelink, otherwise they may overpay you and you’ll have a debt to pay back. You will likely need to cancel your JobSeeker Payment from this point forward because the JobKeeper Payment will take over.

More Information

OPTION TWO – Centrelink JobSeeker Payment for Uber Drivers

The JobSeeker Payment is Australia’s primary unemployment support payment. It was previously called Newstart, and commonly known as ‘the dole’. For Uber drivers, this is the backup option if you’re not eligible for the JobKeeper Payments because you can’t pass the 30% Decline In Income rules.

The maximum fortnightly payment amounts are as follows:

  • Single, No Children – $565.70/fn immediately + $550/fn Coronavirus Supplement from April 27th
  • Single, With Children – $612.00/fn immediately + $550/fn Coronavirus Supplement from April 27th
  • Partnered – $510.80/fn immediately + $550/fn Coronavirus Supplement from April 27th

The amount of payment you receive begins to reduce if you earn more than $104 per fortnight or if your partner earns more than $994 per fortnight. The point where the JobSeeker Payment cuts out completely depends on your circumstances. You can read more here.

If you are eligible for the JobSeeker Payment you’ll also automatically receive the full Coronavirus Supplement of $550/fortnight and the $750 one-off Household Support Payment, more on these below.

Finally, if you rent your home you may also be eligible for Rent Assistance, which can be up to $139 extra per fortnight. This is an add on to the JobSeeker Payment, and Centrelink will add this for you during the application process, you don’t have to apply separately.

Am I Eligible?

The requirements for the JobSeeker Payment have been reduced in order to expand access. For sole traders, which includes rideshare and food delivery drivers, the assets test and waiting times have been waived. Centrelink’s requirements now are that you meet the residence rules and that your net income has fallen below $1,075 per fortnight (i.e. income minus deductions). As of the 27th of April the partner income threshold changes to $3,067 per fortnight or $79,762 per year, prior to that it is $1,846 per fortnight, or $47,970 per year.

Note that if you’re of pension age you won’t be eligible for the JobSeeper Payment nor the Coronavirus Supplement. If this applies to you JobKeeper may be your best bet if you’re eligible.

If you’re a Temporary Resident or on a Student Visa, the situation is not clear. It seems that the government is still deciding whether eligibility will be expanded. Right now it seems that existing eligibility and residency rules are still in place. But some waiting periods have already been waived for those in the process of becoming citizens, and it is possible that more eligibility restrictions will be lifted. We will need to wait for more information and decisions from the government.

Please note that there are many different visa categories, the rules are changing fast, and Centrelink is not my area of expertise. So I’m sorry I cannot advise you on your eligibility. Please wait for more information to be announced in the media, or contact Centrelink directly via phone or online.

How Do I Get It?

If your income has dropped below $1,075 per fortnight, and you wish to apply for the JobSeeker Payment, the first thing you need to do is Register Your Intention To Claim. This tells Centrelink the date that you wanted to first apply from. So even if their application process takes a while (understandable given how many people are affected right now), they will backdate any payments you are eligible for to the date you registered your intent.

If you already have a MyGov account that is linked to Medicare or the ATO, then it is very easy to register your intent. Just log into your MyGov and you should see a popup asking you if you want to register your intention to claim. If you don’t already have a MyGov account linked to the ATO or Medicare, this website explains what to do next.

Please DO NOT GO TO A CENTRELINK OFFICE. They are overwhelmed, and it is dangerous for the spread of the virus, both for others and for you and your family. You can do the whole application and ID check online without going to a Centrelink office.

What Is The Coronavirus Supplement?

The Coronavirus Supplement is a $550/fortnight additional payment on top of the JobSeeker or certain other Centrelink payments. Coronavirus Supplement Payments begin on April 27th and will run for six months.

Am I Eligible?

To receive the Coronavirus Supplement, you must first be eligible to receive one of the following payments:

  • JobSeeker Payment (formerly known as the Newstart Allowance)
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Youth Allowance for jobseekers
  • Parenting Payment Partnered
  • Parenting Payment
  • Single Partner Allowance
  • Farm Household Allowance
  • Youth Allowance students and apprentices

You can find more information on eligibility here:

How Do I Get It?

Once you are registered for one of the above payments from Centrelink, you will get the additional supplement payment automatically starting from the 27th of April. You don’t have to do anything else.

More Information About Centrelink Payments For Uber Drivers

For more information about the Centrelink JobSeeker Payment, visit their dedicated Coronavirus Support page. Please note that I cannot answer your questions about Centrelink benefits, Centrelink is separate from the Tax Office so this is not my area of expertise. However I will do my best to keep this post updated with the latest information announced by the government and links to further assistance. If you want more information about how the payments and benefits apply to you, please read the online information first. If you must contact Centrelink please do so via phone or online.

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Centrelink Household Support Payments for Uber Drivers

The Government is also making two one-off payments of $750 to eligible Australians.

Household Support Payment #1 – $750 – after 31st March

You must be residing in Australia and be receiving one of the following payments, or hold one of the following concession cards, at any time from 12 March 2020 to 13 April 2020, inclusive. If you are eligible for the first Household Support Payment you will receive it automatically, you do not need to do anything.

Please note that we’re not sure yet whether JobKeeper Payment recipients are eligible for the First Household Support Payment. I will update here once we find out.

  • Age Pension
  • Disability Support Pension
  • Carer Payment
  • Parenting Payment
  • Wife Pension
  • Widow B Pension
  • ABSTUDY (Living Allowance)
  • Austudy
  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Newstart Allowance
  • JobSeeker Payment
  • Youth Allowance
  • Partner Allowance
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Special Benefit
  • Widow Allowance
  • Family Tax Benefit, including Double Orphan Pension
  • Carer Allowance
  • Pensioner Concession Card (PCC) holders
  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders
  • Veteran Service Pension; Veteran Income Support Supplement; Veteran Compensation payments, including lump sum payments; War Widow(er) Pension; and Veteran Payment
  • DVA PCC holders;
  • DVA Education Scheme recipients; Disability Pensioners at the temporary special rate; DVA Income support pensioners at $0 rate.
  • Veteran Gold Card holders
  • Farm Household Allowance

Household Support Payment #2 – $750 – after 13th July

The second payment is for people receive one of the above payments at any time from 12 March 2020 to 13 April 2020 inclusive AND who are NOT eligible for the Coronavirus Supplement Payment mentioned above ($550/fortnight). It is particularly aimed at seniors and pensioners.

If this applies to you and you are eligible for the second Household Support Payment you will receive it automatically, you do not need to do anything.

How To Apply For Centrelink As An Uber Driver

Applying For The JobSeeker Payment As An Uber Driver

If you are applying for the JobSeeker Payment rather than the JobKeeper Payment, here is some information to help you with the process.

Before you begin, check out the instructions from ABC News on how to start the Centrelink application process. This is an excellent guide on how to connect your MyGov and begin your claim.

The following notes will hopefully help with some of the specific questions Centrelink will ask about your rideshare and food delivery income.

  • Employment – note that Uber is not employment, it is a business. For employment these questions you should only mention jobs where you were an employee under your TFN, don’t include Uber in these questions.
  • 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.

If you would like DriveTax to fill in the form for you, our fee is $97. You will first need to summarise all of the above figures, and then please email them to us and we will provide further instructions. Do note though that the form itself is the easy part, so once you have gathered and added up all the numbers you have already done the hardest part! So I recommend giving the form a try yourself first, hopefully the instructions above will help and you can avoid paying accountant’s fees.

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.

Special Arrangements For COVID-19

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.

Other Coronavirus Benefits For Rideshare Drivers

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.

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 between now and the 1st of July 2020, and another $10,000 for approximately three months from the 1st of July 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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