According to The Times, Ireland’s Revenue wants to tax workers in the gig economy as soon as they are paid. These workers obtain their gigs through online platforms and apps such as Deliveroo and Uber, and the platforms would be responsible for deducting tax on each transaction before workers receive their pay.
Under the plan, the platforms would be linked electronically with Revenue through a “secure and responsive interface”, allowing them to access workers’ tax credits and allowances. “Revenue’s vision is that these taxpayers could be taxed on a pay-as-you-go basis, with net liabilities being calculated on a real-time basis when services are ordered, provided and paid for via the platform,” it said in a submission to the government’s Commission on Taxation and Welfare.
According to Revenue, the proposed reforms would improve cash flow for gig workers by allowing them to pay tax “in a phased manner in line with when earnings actually arise”, rather than in an annual payment due every November.
This is the latest in a string of policy proposals relating to the gig and platform economy. At the end of last year, the European Union announced new rules that these workers will be presumed to be employees of the digital platform that engages them. This in turn will require apps and platforms to ensure that their workers receive minimum wage, paid holidays and pension rights.
Most gig and platform economy workers are currently engaged as self-employed, and therefore with no automatic rights. The new EU rules will be a significant (and costly) change affecting millions of people across Europe who use apps and platforms to find work, for example drivers, couriers, cleaners, gym trainers, and DIYers to name just a few.
The tax proposal from Revenue is going to be a further nail in the coffin for those workers who argue that they are genuinely self-employed, and further aligns growing international trend against this view.