Taxman targets eBay tax evaders

The Australian Taxation Office is setting its sights on eBay traders who fail to declare income tax on money earned from selling goods on the site.

The Australian Taxation Office is setting its sights on eBay traders who fail to declare income tax on money earned from selling goods on the site.

In an email sent to eBay users, the online auction giant says it received a request from the tax office to provide information on members who sold goods worth more than $50,000 between 2006 and 2008.

The tax office requested the names, addresses, contact information and monthly sales for the targeted users. eBay is legally required to comply and disclose all information relevant to the tax office investigation.

eBay trader Robert Vandermeer, who runs an eBay shop for musical instruments and acceesories, says the tax office is completely justified in targeting tax-evading users.

He points to the online eBay discussion boards, where many users are unsure of their tax obligations.

“I don’t know whether they’re naïve or think they can get away with these sorts of things. People who selling goods worth several thousand dollars a month; I don’t know how they can still describe it with their hand on their heart as a hobby.”

Vandermeer says “it’s right” that the tax office target dodgy users, saying, “if people have done the right thing they’ve got nothing to fear”.

He also hopes the move will level the eBay playing field. “Honest people on eBay shouldn’t have to compete against people who don’t obey the law.”

Phil Leahy, president of the Professional eBay Sellers Alliance, says the email was not unexpected. “We welcome the ATO to take those records to make sure people are complying, that people are doing the right thing,” he says.

“It’ll sort out people who are not doing the right thing. It is fair, absolutely.”

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