The taxi industry’s payment company, Cabcharge, is asking the federal and state governments to get tough with Uber and other ride-sharing apps and check whether they are paying taxes.
Cabcharge chairman Russell Balding says the challenge for regulators is to ensure a level playing field.
“What they don’t tell you about Uber and what you won’t read in those glowing media reports is that the company is an offshore entity which does not appear to pay any taxes here,” Balding told the Cabcharge AGM.
“Furthermore, it can be argued that UberX ride share activity operates illegally and encourages its drivers and others to also break the law.”
Balding says he’s written to Prime Minister Tony Abbott and state leaders highlighting the taxation issues including payment of GST.
He says Uber concentrates on servicing the most profitable segments of the market and charges big premiums at peak times.
He says regulated taxis are operated by law-abiding owners and provide continuously checked, trained drivers with known and regulated fares and taxis that are insured, monitored, inspected and fitted with in-vehicle cameras.
He says unlike regulated taxis and hire cars, ride share companies can not guarantee that drivers or vehicles are checked.
“Uber claims to do this voluntarily,” he says. “This is not good enough. We need the whole community to be covered by adequate safety regulation rather than self-selecting or bold ‘we’ll be good’ statements.
“For example, UberX drivers are not covered by zero-blood alcohol laws that apply to regulated taxi or hire car drivers.
“Safety is also about knowing where a vehicle is at all times even when a phone is turned off by a driver.
“Safety is also about knowing who took out a taxi and having a government authority Driver Identity photo rather than wondering if a phone was passed to an unknown person who is driving a private unknown vehicle.”
However, Uber said the latest statements from Cabcharge are nothing more than scare-mongering to protect the monopoly it has enjoyed in Australia.
“Uber complies with all applicable tax laws, and pays the relevant tax in every territory it operates in,” Uber said in a statement.
Uber said 1,100 new jobs were created in Australia on the uberX platform in the last month.
“All payments on the Uber system are cashless and fully traceable in an industry that has been notoriously cash-based and lacked transparency for years,” an Uber spokesman said.
“Both the driver and the rider get a record of every single Uber trip, which is not guaranteed to be the case with taxis.”
The typical uberX partner in Sydney drives for just 20 hours a week and pockets $2,500 per month on average.
Reports from the US say Uber is close to raising a new round of funding which would value it between $35 and $40 billion.
Cabcharge shares were up 1.68% to $4.83.
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