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The Sharing and Gig Economy

 

The sharing and gig economy, facilitated by online platforms, is an area which many tax administrations recognise can have a positive effect on global economies, by expanding economic activity, as well as potentially leading to greater transparency as once traditional informal cash economy activities become digitised.  It also has its own unique challenges such as a lack of self-reporting or a lack of visibility as a result of a shift from traditional contract based employment which is often subject to direct reporting by employers and withholding.

In 2017 FTA members agreed to work collaboratively together exploring approaches to ensure the effective taxation of those earning income from the sale of goods or services in the sharing and gig economy. The FTA report Sharing and Gig Economy: Effective Taxation of Platform Sellers was published in March 2019 and considered the different ways that tax administrations can best engage with platform sellers, sharing and gig economy platforms, and each other to enable more effective tax compliance.

Two recommendations made in that report have been taken forward in July 2020. Model Reporting Rules have been published that require platforms to collect certain information and report this to tax administrations; and a Code of Conduct for platforms has been developed and published to promote voluntary compliance with tax obligations and support reporting under the Model Rules.

 

Reading material

Sharing and Gig Economy: Effective Taxation of Platform Sellers

This report by the FTA was published at the March 2019 Santiago plenary meeting. The report explores the role of online platforms in the sharing and gig economy, approaches of FTA members to this market, options FTA members could consider to encourage compliance and recommendations for future work. 

These recommendations included: joint work between tax administrations and platforms on providing information and support to platform sellers through a Code of Conduct; improving the evidence base to enhance understanding of the tax at risk in relation to platforms; and assisting in the possible development of a legislative model for standardised reporting by sharing and gig economy platforms.

Model Rules for Reporting by Platform Operators with respect to Sellers in the Sharing and Gig Economy

The OECD has developed Model Reporting Rules that require digital platforms to collect information on the income realised by those offering accommodation, transport and personal services through platforms and to report the information to tax administrations.  These Model Rules are designed to help taxpayers in being compliant with their tax obligations, as well as to streamline reporting regimes for tax administrations and platform operators alike.

Code of Conduct: Co-operation between tax administrations and sharing and gig economy platforms

In addition to the Model Rules, the OECD has developed a Code of Conduct for online platforms. This Code of Conduct sets out some core elements of cooperation between tax administrations and online platforms on providing information and support to sellers on their tax obligations whilst minimising compliance burdens. This Code of Conduct is intended to supplement the Model Rules and promote voluntary compliance with tax obligations, in particular in instances where sellers are not subject to reporting under the Model Rules, for example because the transactions are out of scope or the jurisdiction has not implemented the Model Rules.

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