Shifting gears: Becoming an Uber driver in retirement

Feb 22, 2020
Getting behind the wheel might be the answer to your retirement income woes. Source: Pexels.

It’s quite common these days for retirees to head back into the workforce to help earn an additional income or even just to give themselves something to do in their spare time. But this doesn’t always mean going back under the thumb of a boss and a rigid schedule. In fact, earning an income as a self-employed worker is now right at your fingertips.

Ride-sharing apps like Uber have become the sure-fire way for people to earn money on their own terms. With no set hours, decent pay and the comfort of an air-conditioned vehicle – retirees in particular are becoming increasingly attracted to the laid back lifestyle of the gigging economy.

Natalie Livet, Uber’s Greenlight Regional Lead said that although flexible work has traditionally been hard to find, Uber has managed to create a job that works around any given time or circumstance.

“Driver-partners can choose when to use the app and can manage their own schedule to suit them and their families — for some that might be during their morning commute, weekend evenings, or the early hours of the morning,” she said.

Requirements and costs

There are no upfront costs to become a driver, however, there can be costs associated with meeting the requirements. Although these regulatory requirements can differ between cities, the most common are to:

  • hold a full and current driver’s licence
  • pass a background check
  • pass a driving history check
  • hold the relevant government-issued driver accreditation
  • provide proof of vehicle registration
  • provide valid comprehensive vehicle insurance
  • pass a vehicle inspection

However, tax deductions can be made on a whole range of areas which, according to H&R Block, include:

  • commissions, licensing or service fees paid to Uber
  • costs of becoming an Uber driver – once you’ve started the official application process, such as medical and police checks, application fees etc. Costs incurred before becoming an Uber driver, or before the application process starts (such as attending information nights) are not deductible
  • passenger costs such as water and mints or fuel for the car
  • tolls
  • parking
  • vehicle licensing or registration
  • mobile phone bills
  • safety equipment (such as hi-vis vests)
  • costs of cleaning, servicing and repairing the vehicle
  • insurance
  • tax agent/accountants fee
  • bank fees (if you maintain a separate account for your Uber work)

Safety and Insurance

As most will know, Uber is based on a rating system that keeps tabs on both the driver and the rider. This reward/punishment process means that both parties are always accountable for their actions including damage to the vehicle from the passenger or unsafe activity from the driver.

There is also the option to share your journey with anyone you like so they can track where you’re heading if you feel unsafe. And as payments are automatically deducted from the rider’s account, there is no room for common issues that arise with cash-in-hand jobs.

Uber also automatically cover their drivers under an insurance policy with Chubb Insurance to receive a lump sum payment for certain accidental injuries that can come from an on-trip accident. These common incidents include broken bones, permanent disability and accidental death compensation, as well as the opportunity for reimbursement or lump sum benefits in certain events such as hospitalisation or assault.

However, drivers are responsible for making sure they’re properly insured and that their cars are:

  • road registered and insured for compulsory third party (CTP) in their state or territory of residence;
  • insured for a minimum of third party property damage, with the driver-partner as the policy holder or named as insured; and
  • approved for commercial insurance if you are a fleet partner.

Super contributions

After some debate over the relationship between Uber and drivers, The Fair Work Ombudsman came to the conclusion last year that drivers of Uber were not considered employees due to a lack of formal obligation for drivers to work. The flexibility of being able to choose their own hours meant that drivers were exempt from employee benefits such as sick leave, annual leave and receiving the minimum wage.

As self-employed workers, every Uber driver must have an ABN and become fully in charge of their own taxes, including paying GST on fares. It also means self-employed workers have the option to make their own contributions to their super.

Self-employed people can make super contributions by transferring a regular amount of before-tax income or transferring a lump sum when the cash flow is sufficient. According to MoneySmart, limits to super contributions are capped at $25,000 from pre-tax income and $1000,000 for after-tax income.

Pension and the Work Bonus

As of July 1 last year, self-employed workers in retirement are now able to apply for the Work Bonus Scheme to increase the number of hours they can work without affecting their pension rate.

The first $300 of fortnightly income is not assessed by Centrelink, and as it’s not included in the pension income test of $174 for a single pensioner, it becomes possible for a single pensioner to be earning up to $474 while still receiving the maximum pension amount, according to the Department of Social Services.

Pensioners can also accrue any unused hours up to the amount of $7,800 to be claimed to offset future income amounts that would otherwise be assessed by Centrelink.

Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and for information purposes only. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It is not financial product advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any financial decision you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from an independent licensed financial services professional.

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