Transport Matters Party leader Rod Barton is urging taxi and hire car operators facing large tax debts following industry fairness fund payments to seek a review through the Australian Tax Office, especially if they have left the industry.
Mr Barton questioned the Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas this week on the intention of fairness fund payments and whether tax advice had been given to recipients of fairness fund payments following the Commercial Passenger Vehicle reforms of 2017.
“I’ve heard and shared many stories of former taxi licence holders who are now struggling under financial pressure to pay down debt on lost licences and tax bills that resulted from fairness fund payments,” Mr Barton said.
“Through my talks with a number of individuals it appears that banks put a great deal of pressure on recipients of both transition payments and fairness fund payments to pay down their debts, and in some cases pushed them to sell their homes to do so.
“But, it seems at no point did the banks or the fairness fund administrators advise these people of the coming tax debts on fairness fund payments.”
Mr Barton asked Minister Pallas to clarify the process of establishing with the ATO the intent of fairness fund payments and how these payments would be taxed, especially where licence holders were forced out of the industry by the reforms or were holding licences as superannuation assets.
“These distressing tax burdens are just another “unexpected consequence” of these ill conceived reforms,” said Mr Barton.
“We’re dealing with small business owners here. Taxi and hire car drivers. Working people. Hard working people. They’re not accountants or lawyers and for many of them English isn’t their first language.
“They had incredible debts on property that they thought would be their nest eggs – their superannuation – and now find themselves out of the industry, or even if they are still working, they are all struggling to pay off debt and tax obligations.”
Mr Barton said the ATO had agreed to review individual cases relating to fairness fund payments and he urged those affected to approach the ATO for assistance.
Question time transcript and video