More problems on the horizon for Uber

Until now, it’s Uber’s corporation tax dodging that has come under public scrutiny. Its VAT liability -not so much. But all that’s about to change.

Uber’s VAT problem arises out of a basic tension in its business model. The Uber brand is all about selling to passengers. The very front page of its website invites passengers to “Ride with Uber.” But its contracts pretend – as the Employment Tribunal found last year – that it is selling not to passengers but instead to drivers. And facing in two directions at once is always going to cause you problems.

And the VAT problem it causes is this: Uber’s contracts says its drivers are supplying passengers with transport services. And the Employment Tribunal agreed that passengers were being supplied with transport services. But it said that the passengers were being supplied with those services not by the drivers but by Uber.

And all of this matters because the drivers are below the VAT threshold. They earn, by and large, less than £83,000 a year and so, if they are supplying transport services to passengers, they don’t have to charge VAT.

But if Uber is supplying transport services to passengers for VAT purposes, well, we know it earns more than £83,000 a year. And so it has to charge VAT. And then something has to give.

The drivers get paid less or fares go up or Uber’s commission falls.

And there’s also a pretty big hit to Uber’s balance sheet. It will owe HMRC very substantial back tax: all the VAT it hasn’t paid over the last four years. And it will very likely owe back taxes not just in the UK but all across Europe.

Now, it’s really HMRC that should be having this fight with Uber. But it’s got a feeble record of taking on the big US tech companies.

And at the Good Law Project – which is bringing this fight – we’re not confident that it’s up for this fight. And so we’re going to take Uber on.

Our director is a Queen’s Counsel, specialising in tax. And we’ve taken formal advice from another Queen’s Counsel, also specialising in tax. And they both reckon Uber should be charging VAT.

So next week we’re going to launch our challenge. Check it out over at http://www.GoodLawProject.org. The Queen’s Counsel and solicitors who will act in the challenge will do so at very discounted rates.

But Uber is a mighty beast – you don’t need us to tell you that. And so, if we’re going to have this fight, we’ll need all the financial help you can give us.

So please, come on over, sign up for email updates, have a look and if you can – when we launch the case – make a contribution to the costs.

 

Link to crowdfunding – https://www.crowdjustice.org/case/uber/

 

source and thanks to our friends at: : London Cab Drivers Club

 

 

London Attack

The thoughts and prayers of the National Taxi Association and our membership go out to the victims of todays cowardly attack in our nations capital.

We praise the work of our emergency services and the braveness they showed during this horrific event.

 

 

 

Taxi drivers face ‘total nightmare’ over £450 CCTV they were ‘forced’ to install

TAXI drivers say the CCTV systems they have been ‘forced’ to install in their cars are invalidating their insurance and running down the vehicles’ batteries.

Some cabbies even fear the wiring has made their cars unsafe.

Warrington Borough Council ordered every taxi driver in town to fit CCTV in their vehicle to protect drivers and passengers.

Three companies were selected by the council to do the work and each driver had to pay £450 for the equipment to be installed.

But one driver, who asked not to be named, said: “This is draining the batteries because the CCTV is still running after the engine has stopped. It’s a total nightmare.

“Some drivers are having insurance problems due to the fact the car has been modified, meaning they can only get third party insurance. And potentially we are now all driving cars with electrical problems.

“The council forced this on around 700 cars without due diligence.”

Cabbies also say the cameras can easily be blocked by lowering the sun visor and another taxi driver added: “Many drivers want CCTV however there have been failures in the implementation from the start.

“As a trade we are helpless to do anything. As a diligent driver with my passengers’ safety in mind I would disconnect the system and get it checked, however I would be suspended immediately if I was to do this. Our licence conditions say it must be working all the time.”

A council spokesman said the matter is currently under review but declined to comment further.

The Information Commissioners Office is also looking into claims the system breaches data protection.

A spokesman from the ICO said: “The Data Protection Act protects the public by setting out rules that personal data must be handled fairly and lawfully. We have ongoing discussions with Warrington Council about its use of CCTV in taxis.”

The council was one of the first in the country to introduce CCTV in taxis and the plans were launched in June 2016 following a public consultation.

It was hoped the system would prevent drivers from verbal abuse and assault as well as helping to provide evidence for any crimes that may take place inside taxis.

source: http://www.warringtonguardian.co.uk/

Taxi drivers must ‘pass route tests, have good English’ and told to adopt dress code

Taxi drivers in Sandwell will have to pass a tougher test proving knowledge of the area, good English – and will also have a dress code.

The rules on clothing, footwear and personal hygiene has been branded ‘ridiculous’ by taxi chiefs.

They will also be required to undertake training on issues around child sexual exploitation and disability as part of the new Sandwell Council rules.

There will also be ban on tinted windows and the council says it will no longer be accepting driving experience in other countries.

Prospective cabbies must have held a full UK licence for two years and will have to pay for the suitability test.

Existing drivers with serious criminal offences are to have their licences reviewed by the council’s licensing committee.

Shaz Saleem, of the West Midlands Taxi Drivers Association, said: “Some of the ideas in these new policies are ridiculous.

“Having a dress code is ridiculous. That has nothing to do with customers’ safety. That is not going to make any difference.”

Mr Saleem welcomed improvements to the knowledge test, but said drivers should not have to pay extra as it should be part of the licence.

Councillor Preet Gill, cabinet member for public health and protection, said: “The public’s safety is at the top of our priorities.

“Something which I think is really important is that they will now have to go through CSE training.

“We have started rolling it out gradually but it will now be something they all have to do.”

The current verbal knowledge test requires the applicant for a drivers licence to answer 10 questions based on the law and conditions attached to the licence.

Any applicants must answer eight questions correctly in order to pass the test, and must do so within three attempts.

But this current knowledge test does not contain any arithmetic, Highway Code, or location questions and is described in the report as ‘weak.’

The tinted windows rule does not apply to limos or those vehicles already fitted with them prior to the new rules.

Read more at http://www.expressandstar.com/

Cab drivers hold protest outside Luton Town Hall

Hackney and private hire drivers protest outside Luton town hall yesterday morning

MORE than 50 drivers attended a protest outside Luton Town Hall yesterday over safety issues and the ‘unfair’ issuing of licenses.

The protest was organised by Luton Hackney Carriage Association and Luton Borough Drivers Union with the aim of raising a number of longstanding issues they have had with Luton Borough Council.

In a jointly released statement the two groups raised their concerns, which include fears the public could be at risk from drivers who are operating in Luton but not under the jurisdiction of Luton Borough Council (LBC).

Mushtaq Ahmed, chairman of Luton Borough Drivers Union, said: “We wanted to show our anger about how Luton Borough Council are turning a blind eye to us.

“The next step is to arrange a meeting with Luton Borough Council so we can hear their side.

“Any further protests will be subject to the outcome of the proposed meeting.”

The statement released by the two groups read: “Drivers suspended by Luton Borough Council for serious offences are back working in Luton with Uber.

“[The] council is ignoring the lessons of Rotherham Child Sexual Exploitation Case which involved taxis and minicabs working unchecked outside their licensed zones.

“Lack of enforcement increases public vulnerability; Councillors and Licensing Enforcement will be held directly accountable for any unfortunate incident as they have been repeatedly warned about this risk.”

Other areas of concern which have been raised are:

Accusations that Central Bedfordshire-based drivers have been granted licences to operate in Luton

That licensed Luton drivers are being forced out of the profession by drivers who don’t pay money to the council

That more drivers who are coming in from elsewhere lack the local knowledge that the licensed drivers do

A spokesman for Luton Borough Council said: “The council is always happy to engage constructively with local businesses and is ready to offer assistance, advice and share information with representatives from the town’s taxi trade.

“We are already putting plans in place to invite an independent legal adviser to speak on some of the issues raised by the drivers and hope to be able to continue a positive dialogue with them in the future.”

Read more at http://www.bedfordshire-news.co.uk/

Mar 23

More problems on the horizon for Uber

Until now, it’s Uber’s corporation tax dodging that has come under public scrutiny. Its VAT liability -not so much. But all that’s about to change.

Uber’s VAT problem arises out of a basic tension in its business model. The Uber brand is all about selling to passengers. The very front page of its website invites passengers to “Ride with Uber.” But its contracts pretend – as the Employment Tribunal found last year – that it is selling not to passengers but instead to drivers. And facing in two directions at once is always going to cause you problems.

And the VAT problem it causes is this: Uber’s contracts says its drivers are supplying passengers with transport services. And the Employment Tribunal agreed that passengers were being supplied with transport services. But it said that the passengers were being supplied with those services not by the drivers but by Uber.

And all of this matters because the drivers are below the VAT threshold. They earn, by and large, less than £83,000 a year and so, if they are supplying transport services to passengers, they don’t have to charge VAT.

But if Uber is supplying transport services to passengers for VAT purposes, well, we know it earns more than £83,000 a year. And so it has to charge VAT. And then something has to give.

The drivers get paid less or fares go up or Uber’s commission falls.

And there’s also a pretty big hit to Uber’s balance sheet. It will owe HMRC very substantial back tax: all the VAT it hasn’t paid over the last four years. And it will very likely owe back taxes not just in the UK but all across Europe.

Now, it’s really HMRC that should be having this fight with Uber. But it’s got a feeble record of taking on the big US tech companies.

And at the Good Law Project – which is bringing this fight – we’re not confident that it’s up for this fight. And so we’re going to take Uber on.

Our director is a Queen’s Counsel, specialising in tax. And we’ve taken formal advice from another Queen’s Counsel, also specialising in tax. And they both reckon Uber should be charging VAT.

So next week we’re going to launch our challenge. Check it out over at http://www.GoodLawProject.org. The Queen’s Counsel and solicitors who will act in the challenge will do so at very discounted rates.

But Uber is a mighty beast – you don’t need us to tell you that. And so, if we’re going to have this fight, we’ll need all the financial help you can give us.

So please, come on over, sign up for email updates, have a look and if you can – when we launch the case – make a contribution to the costs.

 

Link to crowdfunding – https://www.crowdjustice.org/case/uber/

 

source and thanks to our friends at: : London Cab Drivers Club

 

 

Mar 22

London Attack

The thoughts and prayers of the National Taxi Association and our membership go out to the victims of todays cowardly attack in our nations capital.

We praise the work of our emergency services and the braveness they showed during this horrific event.

 

 

 

Mar 18

Taxi drivers face ‘total nightmare’ over £450 CCTV they were ‘forced’ to install

TAXI drivers say the CCTV systems they have been ‘forced’ to install in their cars are invalidating their insurance and running down the vehicles’ batteries.

Some cabbies even fear the wiring has made their cars unsafe.

Warrington Borough Council ordered every taxi driver in town to fit CCTV in their vehicle to protect drivers and passengers.

Three companies were selected by the council to do the work and each driver had to pay £450 for the equipment to be installed.

But one driver, who asked not to be named, said: “This is draining the batteries because the CCTV is still running after the engine has stopped. It’s a total nightmare.

“Some drivers are having insurance problems due to the fact the car has been modified, meaning they can only get third party insurance. And potentially we are now all driving cars with electrical problems.

“The council forced this on around 700 cars without due diligence.”

Cabbies also say the cameras can easily be blocked by lowering the sun visor and another taxi driver added: “Many drivers want CCTV however there have been failures in the implementation from the start.

“As a trade we are helpless to do anything. As a diligent driver with my passengers’ safety in mind I would disconnect the system and get it checked, however I would be suspended immediately if I was to do this. Our licence conditions say it must be working all the time.”

A council spokesman said the matter is currently under review but declined to comment further.

The Information Commissioners Office is also looking into claims the system breaches data protection.

A spokesman from the ICO said: “The Data Protection Act protects the public by setting out rules that personal data must be handled fairly and lawfully. We have ongoing discussions with Warrington Council about its use of CCTV in taxis.”

The council was one of the first in the country to introduce CCTV in taxis and the plans were launched in June 2016 following a public consultation.

It was hoped the system would prevent drivers from verbal abuse and assault as well as helping to provide evidence for any crimes that may take place inside taxis.

source: http://www.warringtonguardian.co.uk/

Mar 18

Taxi drivers must ‘pass route tests, have good English’ and told to adopt dress code

Taxi drivers in Sandwell will have to pass a tougher test proving knowledge of the area, good English – and will also have a dress code.

The rules on clothing, footwear and personal hygiene has been branded ‘ridiculous’ by taxi chiefs.

They will also be required to undertake training on issues around child sexual exploitation and disability as part of the new Sandwell Council rules.

There will also be ban on tinted windows and the council says it will no longer be accepting driving experience in other countries.

Prospective cabbies must have held a full UK licence for two years and will have to pay for the suitability test.

Existing drivers with serious criminal offences are to have their licences reviewed by the council’s licensing committee.

Shaz Saleem, of the West Midlands Taxi Drivers Association, said: “Some of the ideas in these new policies are ridiculous.

“Having a dress code is ridiculous. That has nothing to do with customers’ safety. That is not going to make any difference.”

Mr Saleem welcomed improvements to the knowledge test, but said drivers should not have to pay extra as it should be part of the licence.

Councillor Preet Gill, cabinet member for public health and protection, said: “The public’s safety is at the top of our priorities.

“Something which I think is really important is that they will now have to go through CSE training.

“We have started rolling it out gradually but it will now be something they all have to do.”

The current verbal knowledge test requires the applicant for a drivers licence to answer 10 questions based on the law and conditions attached to the licence.

Any applicants must answer eight questions correctly in order to pass the test, and must do so within three attempts.

But this current knowledge test does not contain any arithmetic, Highway Code, or location questions and is described in the report as ‘weak.’

The tinted windows rule does not apply to limos or those vehicles already fitted with them prior to the new rules.

Read more at http://www.expressandstar.com/

Mar 18

Cab drivers hold protest outside Luton Town Hall

Hackney and private hire drivers protest outside Luton town hall yesterday morning

MORE than 50 drivers attended a protest outside Luton Town Hall yesterday over safety issues and the ‘unfair’ issuing of licenses.

The protest was organised by Luton Hackney Carriage Association and Luton Borough Drivers Union with the aim of raising a number of longstanding issues they have had with Luton Borough Council.

In a jointly released statement the two groups raised their concerns, which include fears the public could be at risk from drivers who are operating in Luton but not under the jurisdiction of Luton Borough Council (LBC).

Mushtaq Ahmed, chairman of Luton Borough Drivers Union, said: “We wanted to show our anger about how Luton Borough Council are turning a blind eye to us.

“The next step is to arrange a meeting with Luton Borough Council so we can hear their side.

“Any further protests will be subject to the outcome of the proposed meeting.”

The statement released by the two groups read: “Drivers suspended by Luton Borough Council for serious offences are back working in Luton with Uber.

“[The] council is ignoring the lessons of Rotherham Child Sexual Exploitation Case which involved taxis and minicabs working unchecked outside their licensed zones.

“Lack of enforcement increases public vulnerability; Councillors and Licensing Enforcement will be held directly accountable for any unfortunate incident as they have been repeatedly warned about this risk.”

Other areas of concern which have been raised are:

Accusations that Central Bedfordshire-based drivers have been granted licences to operate in Luton

That licensed Luton drivers are being forced out of the profession by drivers who don’t pay money to the council

That more drivers who are coming in from elsewhere lack the local knowledge that the licensed drivers do

A spokesman for Luton Borough Council said: “The council is always happy to engage constructively with local businesses and is ready to offer assistance, advice and share information with representatives from the town’s taxi trade.

“We are already putting plans in place to invite an independent legal adviser to speak on some of the issues raised by the drivers and hope to be able to continue a positive dialogue with them in the future.”

Read more at http://www.bedfordshire-news.co.uk/

Mar 06

Cabbie fined after he refused to pick up blind man and his guide dog

A cruel cabbie who refused to pick up a blind man and his guide dog has been hit with a £600 fine.

Taiwo Osazuwa was called to pick up the disabled man from Asda in Eastlands , but wouldn’t let the dog in his car when he arrived.

The Hackney carriage driver was hauled before the courts after being charged with breaking laws under the Equality Act, which specifically require taxi and private hire drivers to carry guide and other assistant dogs.

Osazuwa, 59, knew the man had a guide dog before he arrived at the Asda store after his operator sent him to the job on June 3.

The man subsequently called another taxi firm and he and his dog were picked up without incident.

Osazuwa pleaded not guilty to breaking equality laws at Manchester Magistrates’ Court.

He found guilty and ordered to pay a £65 fine, £500 costs and a victim surcharge of £35.

Osazuwa holds a Hackney carriage licence with Rossendale council, but was working for a Manchester private hire firm at the time of the incident.

Town hall bosses in Lancashire will now call him to a hearing to see if he is worthy of keeping his Hackney carriage driver licence.

Manchester council’s neighbourhoods chief Nigel Murphy said: “We expect the highest standards from all taxi and private hire drivers operating in Manchester and will not tolerate anything less that exemplary behaviour.

“Assistance dogs are indispensable for many people with visual impairments allowing them a level of independence that might otherwise be impossible.

“So it is vital that both Hackney and private hire vehicles allow passengers with assistance dogs.

“I hope the severity of this fine reminds all drivers of their responsibilities.

“Unfortunately this problem often goes unreported, so I’d ask that anyone who has faced a similar issue to report it to us.”

source: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/cabbie-fined-after-refused-pick-12691870

Mar 03

Uber drivers refused to take man with guide dog 14 times

A partially-sighted man says he has repeatedly been refused taxis operated by private hire firm Uber because he travels with a guide dog.

Saleh Ahmed, from Balsall Heath, Birmingham, gets a cab to New Street Station every day on his way to work in Worcester.

He said he had been left feeling humiliated by the rejections.

Taxis are obliged to take people with guide dogs. Uber said it had barred the drivers involved.

Mr Ahmed said the latest refusals happened on Monday.

“I gave the driver a ring and explained I have a guide dog,” he said.

“He instantly cancelled the ride and I was charged a cancellation fee.

“I was refused four times by Uber that night. One of the drivers did turn up, but drove off when he saw the dog.

“It’s really disappointing. This has happened to me at least 14 times. It makes me feels humiliated.

“It stresses me out just to know that I can’t book a taxi like everybody else does to get from A to B.”

Uber said it was “totally unacceptable” for drivers to refuse to take a guide dog.

“Licensed private hire drivers must carry service animals in their vehicle and we remind all drivers of this legal obligation before they start using the Uber app,” it said in a statement.

“Any driver who is found to have refused to take a service animal will permanently lose access to the Uber app and risks having their private hire licence taken away.

“The two drivers complained about by Mr Ahmed have been barred from using the app and won’t be allowed back if the complaint is upheld.”

source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-39151232

Mar 03

Minicab driver fined for refusing to pick up 71-year-old blind woman and guide dog

A minicab driver who refused to pick up a blind 71-year-old woman and her guide dog, leaving them stranded, has been fined.

Samim Yakubi was worried the dog would urinate or leave hairs in his car after he arrived to pick them up in Wolverhampton on October 4 last year.

The 40-year-old was working for Wednesfield Radio Cars as a private hire driver when the incident happened. The company had already been told that Rita Nicholls would be travelling with her dog Charlie when Yakubi was dispatched.

Magistrates fined Yakubi £80 and ordered him to pay costs of £400 and a victim surcharge of £30 after he pleaded guilty to breaching the Equality Act.

City of Wolverhampton Council said Yakubi went to the arranged pick-up location in the city’s Market Street but when he realised the customer had a dog he said there had been a mistake and left without them.

Yakubi was interviewed under caution by council officers. He then admitted he had lied to Nicholls, saying the actual reason he left was because he was worried the dog would urinate in his car and leave hair inside.

Steve Evans, from the council, said: “This was discrimination, plain and simple.

“I find it despicable that a private hire driver, who is there to provide a service to everyone, would abandon a blind passenger because he didn’t want a guide dog in his car.

“Yakubi knew he was breaking the law, all drivers undergo disability awareness training, but he went ahead and did it anyway, motivated by purely selfish reasons.”

Read more at http://talkradio.co.uk/

Mar 03

Glasgow PH driver loses appeal against licence ban after allegedly assaulting passenger

A private hire driver’s attempt to regain his private hire licence was quashed after he was suspended for allegedly assaulting one of his passengers.

Daniel Hughes appealed the decision made by Glasgow City Council’s licensing board to immediately suspend his licence after police made the committee aware of the alleged incident which took place on New Year’s Day.

The 56-year-old denied the charge against him at the licensing board.

However members decided to uphold their original decision.

Mr Hughes was charged for allegedly assaulting a man on New Year’s Day after the passenger was sick in his car at about 2am on January 1.

The police report of the incident said that the male passenger, who was accompanied by two female passengers, became unwell and was sick into his hands.

But some of the sick fell on the car’s interior.

Mr Hughes then shouted at the male and demanded that he pay £50 to cover the clean-up cost.

The sick passenger offered to clean the mess but Mr Hughes refused.

The report goes on to say the car was stopped after the passenger refused to pay the cost of cleaning the car and then got out – saying to the people he was with that he still felt unwell.

It was then Mr Hughes allegedly got out of the car, pushed the passenger over and kneeled on the passenger’s chest and punched him on the face.

Then, after other passengers restrained him, he went back to his car, retrieved a metal flask and allegedly struck the sick passenger to the left side of his face.

After the incident Mr Hughes drove away from the scene.

The male passenger attended hospital the following day where he was informed he had suffered from concussion as a result of the incident.

After a police investigation, Mr Hughes was charged with assault.

Although he has been charged, he has not been convicted with the case still to go before the courts.

The committee voted by five to two to suspend his licence for the time he had left on his three year licence.

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: “The Licensing Committee has a responsibility to ensure the safety of passengers using licensed vehicles.”

source: http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/

Mar 03

Ipswich minicab driver stole teenager’s phone after illegally touting

An Ipswich minicab driver has been convicted of touting for business and stealing a £450 phone belonging to a teenage girl he illegally picked up at Cardinal Park.

Valdet Miftari, of Compair Crescent, Ipswich, was also found guilty of plying for trade when not licensed as a public Hackney carriage and having no insurance for his Volvo V50, after a trial at the town’s magistrates’ court.

The 29-year-old denied all the charges.

On April 29, 2016 two teenage girls left Unit 17 nightclub in Cardinal Park between 2.30am and 2.45am, having booked a cab home through Hawk Express.

There were several cabs waiting for customers.

One of the women approached drivers to find the vehicle they had booked.

The third driver she approached was Miftari, a self-employed licensed private hire driver, working for Hawk Express.

The court was told he offered to take the women home, but when they got into his cab he asked one of them to call his office and cancel the booking, telling them to say ‘my mum had picked us up’.

It was claimed Miftari suggested stopping at a kebab shop on Norwich Road because he had heard the teenagers say they were hungry.

Miftari offered to wait inside for the food order, while the teenagers went to wait in his car.

One of the girls left her mobile phone on the counter. The prosecution said that out of the view of staff Miftari covered the phone with his arm, and then put it in his pocket.

After arriving home one of the teenagers realised she had lost her £450 phone. She contacted Hawk Express in the hope of recovering her phone, but Miftari had not been booked by the company.

The teenager went to the kebab shop and took a copy of its CCTV to the police, who identified Miftari’s Volvo.

She also went to Ipswich Borough Council as the licensing authority for taxis and minicabs.

A minicab driver invalidates his insurance if he touts for trade.

It was established Miftari had no reason to be in Cardinal Park. Miftari claimed he gave the teenagers a free lift home out of kindness, because they had been waiting in the cold, and he did not charge them for the journey. He admitted he took the phone, but said he had handed it back.
Miftari will be sentenced on March 21.

source: http://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/

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