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ATO knows more than you might think about your hobby

Do I need to declare income from a hobby, casual holiday rental or the car I sold online? 

When clients first come to us they can be surprised when we ask some pretty personal questions. For example, do you have a hobby or a holiday house? The reason we ask is because if we don’t, it doesn’t mean the ATO doesn’t already know about it. What might have started earnestly as hobby a few years back, the ATO might view as an income earner on Etsy.com.  Do you rent a room on AirBnB from time to time? Or for the car enthusiasts, how many cars did you do up and sell this year on carsales.com.au? Generally, many people might think this income is incidental because they view it as a hobby or didn’t include it as income in their tax return last year and didn’t get audited. 

Where does ATO get income data from?

You might be surprised how much access ATO now has to transactions made with third parties, particularly popular online selling and social platforms. The ATO calls this data matching and they are already collecting information from a wide range of third-party sources, both public and private, and openly admit, more than 600 million transactions are reported to the ATO annually. Examples of third-party sources provided by the ATO are listed below.  

Example of third-party data sources

Information provided

Banks, financial institutions and investment bodies

Investment income

Employers

Payments to employees and contractors

State and territory motor vehicle registering bodies

Motor vehicles sold, transferred or newly registered

State and territory title offices and revenue agencies

Sales and other transfers of real property

Government bodies

Pensions, benefits, rebates, taxable grants and other payments

Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) and our international treaty partners

Foreign source income

Online selling platforms

Quantity and value of online sales

Sharing economy facilitators

Payments to participants

Financial institutions providing merchant facilities and administrators of specialised payment systems

Electronic payments processed for business including total credit and debit card payments received

Stock exchanges and share registries

Share transactions

Businesses in the building and construction industry

Payments made for building and construction services

Health insurers

Confirmation of health insurance cover and premiums paid


So if you happened to have “forgotten” to tell us about your hobby or holiday rental. Get in touch so we can provide advice on the tax implications of this income. In some cases, a hobby is a hobby, for example, if the materials cost you more than you make on Etsy. But be safe and not sorry, ask first, it’s easier than begging forgiveness from the ATO later.
In certain cases, we can also advise on how to use AirBNB without incurring a tax liability!