Food delivery service Foodora is being pursued by Australian authorities over unpaid tax and superannuation, according to the Transport Workers Union.
The Australian Tax Office and Revenue NSW are both investigating the company which recently pulled out of Australia, the union said on Tuesday.
“Not only were Foodora ripping off riders for years it has now been confirmed they were ripping off taxpayers,” national secretary Tony Sheldon said in a statement.
“Instead of paying its taxes the company decided to cut and run, potentially leaving millions of dollars unpaid.”
The tax office won’t comment on the affairs of individual companies but a spokesman told AAP in a statement “more generally the ATO is reviewing the sharing – or gig – economy”.
“We take our responsibility to protect the superannuation guarantee system seriously and will take action where we believe a company is using contracting arrangements to avoid paying super and shift tax obligations to the worker,” the spokesman said.
The ATO expects to issue guidance about taxation implications for the gig economy later this year.
Foodora has been dogged by a series of legal disputes in Australia including the country’s Fair Work Ombudsman taking the company to the Federal Court over workers’ rights.
Another rider appealed to the Fair Work Commission saying he was unfairly dismissed after speaking out over low pay and poor conditions for delivery riders.
Revenue NSW on Tuesday said it was unable to comment specifically on any investigation but a spokeswoman confirmed the department’s work focused on “identifying and contacting businesses who are not currently registered or who may have understated their liabilities”.
Alan McDonald, Managing Director, McDonal Murholme, “It appears that is not so much the exercise of workplace rights by riders for Foodora that has caused them to lose their jobs but rather effect of Australia’s very high tax rates. On one hand, the Fair Work Act provides some of the best protection in the world to allow employees to complain about breach of workplace rights, including failure to pay superannuation. On the other hand, Scomo’s overenthusiastic use of the tax laws to raise revenue to bring the budget back into surplus has caused these very workers to lose their jobs.”
Foodora wrapped up its Australian operations last month. The company has been contacted for comment.