Australians With Pandemic Side-Hustles Warned Of Imminent ‘Tax Crackdown’

“We know lots of people have picked up a side hustle during the pandemic.”

The last eighteen months have been pretty tough for most Aussies… And we’re not just talking about how we haven’t been able to go to the pub.

Lots of us have lost our jobs or seen our hours cut thanks to COVID. Those lucky enough to work from home haven’t been completely spared either, with household bills skyrocketing and productivity down. At the same time, wage growth is stagnant while interest rates remain historically low.

There haven’t been too many options for those needing to make a bit of scratch during these tough times, either. The cost of entry to the property market prices most of us out. Bonds and term deposits are stable, but with record low interest rates, they’re not a good use of one’s money. The stock and cryptocurrency markets are absolutely insane right now, but they’re volatile…

No wonder, then, that Aussies have been exploring all sorts of side-hustles during this pandemic, from flipping cars to selling nudes and everything in between. Necessity is the mother of invention. But in what’s sure to be rather unwelcome news for many of us, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has announced that they’re in crackdown mode this tax time and that “it is paying close attention to undeclared income from secondary work”.

Amber “PaladinAmber” Wadham, one of the most popular Australian Twitch streamers. Popular streamers on the platform can make as much as AU$4,000-7,000 a month, with top-level streamers able to negotiate even more favourable terms. Image: The Advertiser

“Generally, when you provide your labour, skills or goods for a fee, you need to report this income in your tax return… regardless of whether you’re using a digital platform or more traditional means, such as word of mouth,” ATO Assistant Commissioner Tim Loh cautions.

“We know lots of people have picked up a side hustle during the pandemic. This has included a wide range of activities such as freelancing, setting up a local market stall or receiving income from subscribers through platforms like Patreon, Twitch or OnlyFans.”

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While it’s somewhat hilarious for a stuffy taxman to be talking about OnlyFans – and what they’re saying is completely reasonable (tax avoidance is a crime) – it does feel like a bit of a kick in the teeth for many Aussies who are struggling to make ends meet in 2021.

In any case, be warned, cash in hand bandits: the taxman is watching.

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