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Getting ahead in the gig economy

Financial Planning  |  31/05/2017  |   5 min read

Australia’s job market has undergone a dramatic shift over the past decade. Full time jobs have shrunk, replaced with an ad-hoc mix of casual, contract, and part-time work. This has long term consequences for people’s superannuation and their quality of life in retirement.

The rapid growth of the ‘gig-economy’ has been driven by many factors, but its underlying principle is the use of “online intermediaries to generate business.” This might include Uber drivers, gardeners on Airtasker, or designers hired via Fiverr. 

While many people appreciate the freedom these part-time roles allow, they mean you're in charge of your finances. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Employment status

Knowing if you’re an employee, contractor, or self-employed will affect how you’re taxed. As an employee you will have your super contributions and taxes deducted from every pay cheque. If you’re self-employed, working part-time or freelancing you’ll need to take responsibility for your own tax obligations and super.  

Tax

If your income comes from a variety of sources it may be a good idea to hire an accountant. They can help you work out which tax deductions and government rebates you may be eligible for when lodging your annual returns. Depending on your income you may also be required to lodge a regular Business Activity Statement (BAS) and pay tax instalments. Whether you’re earning some income on the side or employing several people, one thing remains the same – you need to set aside part of your income to cover your future tax bill. You can learn more here. 

GST registration

If you earn more than $75,000 as a contractor or while self-employed you will need to register for the GST and apply it. If you’re an Uber driver you’ll also need to register, regardless of your income. As the gig economy becomes a more significant portion of the overall workforce you can expect the Government to take an increased interest in the sector and its oversight, which may mean tightened taxation rules. Read more here. 

Superannuation

Being self-employed means managing your own super. In other words, you’re responsible for making contributions, either to an existing account or a new one you’ve set-up. While there are no legal requirements to pay yourself super, making regular payments (even modest ones), can have various long term benefits. There are also government rebates you can benefit from. More information is available here.

Insurance

Employees are covered for workers compensation by their employer if they are injured or become sick in the course of their work, and if you have a valid superannuation policy you’ll be covered for death and disability insurance. Going it alone as a contractor or freelancer means you’ll often have to take out your own insurance to cover income, illness, disability, death and, if you employ other people, workers compensation. Read more here. 

Being your own boss, and being able to set your own hours and conditions is both appealing and increasingly common. But it means taking ownership of your own tax, superannuation and GST obligations. That may sound intimidating, but there are a range of support services to help you. We’ve listed some of the most useful ones below.


Your tax obligations
Registering for GST
Setting up your superannuation
Choosing the right insurance 


This information is provided for general information only. It does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and should therefore not be taken as personal advice. You should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it and, if necessary, you should seek professional financial advice. Before making a decision to invest in the Equipsuper Superannuation Fund, you should read the relevant Equip Product Disclosure Statement (PDS). Past performance is not an indication of future performance. Issued by Equipsuper Pty Ltd ABN 64 006 964 049 AFSL 246383. 

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