Ride-sharing company Uber is potentially avoiding paying millions of dollars in government taxes, a report on Victoria’s taxi industry has found.
The independent report by SGS Economics and Planning found the taxi industry generated $822 million in fares each year and employs almost 17,000 people.
UberX drivers use private cars to carry passengers who book rides using the company’s smartphone app.
The rise of the popular service has infuriated taxi drivers and owners, who say they are being undercut by UberX drivers, who do not pay licence fees.
The Victorian Government has not yet announced any changes to existing taxi regulation, despite the industry’s repeated demands for it to stop Uber getting a “free ride”.
The State Government reaps $102.3 million a year in taxi-related taxes and the Federal Government takes $105.5 million, according to the SGS report, which was commissioned by the taxi industry.
The report said more than $260 million went to other sectors of the economy to cover goods and services like fuel, repairs and insurance, in addition to the fare revenue.
It also said there were 5868 taxis in Victoria, with an average income of $140,000.
Victorian Taxi Association spokeswoman Georgie Nicholls said taxi drivers were being ripped off.
“We feel it’s completely unfair for them to be expected to compete with people who aren’t complying with the same regulations as they are,” she said.
“These kind of contributions that we’ve seen quantified here are not being made by new entrants to the industry.
“We want to see all commercial passenger vehicle providers playing by the same rules.”
Uber last week lost a bid to have criminal charges against their drivers thrown out of a Melbourne court in a test case of the app’s legality.
Governments are in the process of working out how to best regulate the ride-sharing app based service as it gains popularity.
In February this year, Uber’s senior vice president David Plouffe offered to open up its transportation data to the Federal Government in exchange for regulation.
“I think there’s a misconception that Uber does not want to work with governments. We are hungry to partner with governments,” he told 7.30.
“We have struck an agreement in the city of Boston and we will do this elsewhere when we reach agreement to share data.
“We have a lot of information about how people are moving around their cities, so there’s a lot in it for cities.”
About 500 Victorian taxi drivers rallied on the steps of State Parliament earlier this month, urging the State Government to better regulate the ride-sharing service.