Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Meet a member: Judy White, CTA at BDO

Judy White, CTA
Judy White, CTA
Name

Judy White, CTA

Company

BDO

State

Queensland

Member since

2009

Areas of specialty

I specialise in three key areas of taxation:

  • employment taxes, particularly fringe benefits tax and superannuation guarantee;
  • tax effect accounting; and
  • accounting and taxation advice (including GST implementation) to the financial services industry, drawing on my experience of working with credit union clients since 1999.

Why are you a member of The Tax Institute?

I consider my membership of The Tax Institute a great privilege, especially given the experience I've gained through the networks I've developed and the education programs.

I became a member for two reasons. First, I was lecturing with the Institute on its education programs so had first-hand insight into the value to be gained through membership. Second, I was very interested in the events provided by the Institute, most notably the financial services conference because of the link to my sector specialisation, and membership provided added benefits for such events.

Since joining more than five years ago, I have been impressed with the range of services and the quality of the education and seminars the Institute provides. This has been a key driver for me becoming increasingly involved in The Tax Institute, whether through attending seminars, or presenting lectures and seminars. This active involvement saw me become a member of the Membership Committee in 2012 and I've since been involved in other committees relating to education and the Young Tax Professionals program.

How is your membership beneficial to your practice and clients?

My membership is invaluable to BDO and my clients because the high quality of the training and education that I and my colleagues receive as members of The Tax Institute is clearly reflected in our work. Personally, I also gain great benefit from the many opportunities for members to network with each other and share insights.

How did you end up in tax?

Before specialising in tax, I worked in BDO’s business advisory services team, providing accounting, taxation and advisory services to a wide range of clients. In 2008, an opportunity arose to move into the tax team and because I am always up for a new challenge, I welcomed the opportunity to apply my skills in a new practice area. When I look back, it’s a shift I am very glad I made!

What are the challenges for tax practitioners this year?

With economic conditions continuing to place pressure on many sectors of the market, I see bringing in new clients as a key challenge for tax practitioners.

At BDO, we consider the need for meaningful tax reform to be of utmost importance for our clients and the broader Australian taxpaying community, so keeping up the momentum in this area will also be paramount.

Most memorable career moment to date

Most definitely when I was selected to represent The Tax Institute and conduct presentations as part of its FBT Roadshow in Queensland during 2012.

Other highlights include the uptake of a tax effect accounting tool I developed across the BDO in Australia network, and the professional and personal satisfaction I get from the long-standing relationships I have with my clients, particularly those in the credit union industry.

How do you relax?

I thoroughly enjoy listening to music, going to the gym and spending time with my family. My husband and I have two children (Xander, 9 and Alicia, 7) so a lot of time is spent as a family, whether that is enjoying a trip to the movies, going to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, taking a walk, or watching the kids take part in their chosen sports.

Advice to those entering the profession

Work hard and remember it’s the quality of time not the quantity of time that delivers the most benefit for you and your clients, and work on your professional relationships with colleagues and clients so you build a robust network. Most importantly, be yourself.

The Tax Institute
The Tax Institute is Australia’s leading professional association in tax. Its 13,000 members include tax agents, accountants and lawyers as well as tax practitioners in corporations, government and academia.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Speaker Profile: When the ATO comes knocking...

Lyndall Cromption, CTA
Lyndall Cromption, CTA
In the latest speaker profile in our series, we sit down with Lyndall Cromption, CTA from Riordans Lawyers who is presenting the When the ATO comes knocking session with Craig Jackson, CTA at the upcoming 7th Annual Tax Forum.

Tell us about yourself

I am the Assistant Commissioner of Taxation based in the World Square offices in Sydney. I have worked with the ATO for a period of 10 years. During that time I have worked in the areas of provision of advice, disputes and litigation and most recently have the national responsibility for developing the compliance strategy for the banking and finance industry.

A key aspect of the national banking and finance strategy role is consulting with taxpayers, industry bodies and advisors on industry issues, with a focus of resolving problems and providing guidance.

How long have you been affiliated with The Tax Institute?

I am a Chartered Tax Adviser with The Tax Institute and have been a member since 2003.

What does The Tax Forum mean to you, and more broadly, to the tax industry?

The Tax Forum provides a great opportunity to network with other tax professionals and to hear details of the latest taxation issues in the current environment.

What is the topic that you are presenting at the 7th Annual Tax forum?

Craig Jackson, CTA and I am presenting at the session titled “When to ATO comes knocking…” The session will consider the various stages of an ATO compliance review, including the ATO’s approach to risk ratings and the standards and level of evidence required at different stages of a review, audit or dispute. It will consider the importance of retaining and accessing information and documentation to the success of resolving disputes, with a focus on compliance activities within the PGI market segment. This session will also deal with ATO information gathering methods and processes.

What can attendees expect to learn from your session? 

Attendees can expect to learn about their rights and responsibilities, how to handle formal and informal ATO enquiries, the level of documentation required to be presented, avenues available for dispute resolution, and managing their interaction with the ATO. Attendees can also expect to learn about risk management and preparing for reviews/audits. The session will also provide insights into how the ATO views the processes and uses the information.

What new or hot topics will you cover? 

Topics covered include the ATO risk ratings, ATO compliance reviews, corporate governance and audit preparedness, and the increased level of intensity from ATO auditors and the increasing expectation to finalise reviews faster which shows the importance of retaining and accessing information and documentation.

How will attending your session help delegates help their clients?

By attending the session, delegates will receive up to date knowledge from an experienced tax practitioner and a senior ATO officer which will help them better prepare their clients for possible ATO review activity, inform them of the various avenues of dispute resolution and how they can best handle ATO requests for information.

The annual Tax Forum has become the must attend event in the NSW calendar for practitioners and tax professionals, and features 42 sessions and over 50 speakers, which gives you plenty of technical content to take back to the office.

Find out more about the conference and register now.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Join a Tax Institute Technical Committee

I am pleased to advise all members of an important and exciting opportunity to potentially become an active member of The Tax Institute’s technical committees.

The purpose of our technical committee structure is to support the policy and advocacy activities of The Tax Institute as carried out by the Tax Policy and Advocacy team and to ensure that member concerns with tax law and administration are represented.

A re-tuning of this purpose, combined with the fact that the ATO has a new consultative model, has resulted in changes to our committee structure. These changes aim to ensure that as many Tax Institute members as possible are actively engaged in supporting our policy and advocacy activities and that volunteer members are fully engaged with driving the purpose of the committees. They also seek to ensure that there is appropriate geographic representation and input into committee activities.

The new technical committee structure comprises:

  • Large Business (large business and international issues)
  • FBT
  • GST
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Superannuation
  • Not-For-Profit; and
  • Technical Resource (SME and tax practitioner issues as well as all issues not covered by one of the above committees).

As well as special purpose sub-committees and working groups covering issues as needed, including:

  • Tax Reform; and
  • Deregulation.

Each committee has a charter that sets out the roles and responsibilities of members and these are available on request.

I encourage members who wish to become involved in the technical committees to consider the new structure and express your interest in being involved with a particular committee that aligns most closely with your expertise and ability to contribute.

Robert Jeremenko
Robert
Jeremenko
Robert Jeremenko CTA is Senior Tax Counsel of The Tax Institute.

The Tax Institute is Australia’s leading professional association in tax. Its 13,000 members include tax agents, accountants and lawyers as well as tax practitioners in corporations, government and academia.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Cutting the tax red tape

Consultation in full swing

One of the things I did not appreciate until I became president was how much involvement I would have in signing off on submissions and participating in consultations with the Tax Office and with Treasury in relation to new legislation.

Recently I spent half a day consulting on a measure that is designed to protect taxpayers who relied upon measures that had been announced but which will now not be enacted as a result of the Assistant Treasurer’s announcement in December last year. I expect that by the time you are reading this column the draft legislation will have been released for public comment. I have also been involved in a consultation about a potential new law that would give the Commissioner power to alter the operation of the tax law to remedy outcomes that are unintended or anomalous. This measure is at a very early stage of gestation – the government has not yet considered whether it would be prepared to propose such a law. Subject to seeing the proposed law, The Tax Institute is willing to support it provided it can only be exercised in favour of taxpayers.

Tax red tape

Another issue on which The Tax Institute has been consulting is the government’s campaign to reduce red tape. This consultation has provided a good opportunity for member input, as I explain further below. On 19 March 2014 the government introduced its first tranche of red tape repeal bills including the Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2014) Bill 2014. The Bill proposed four redundant tax measures for repeal.

I welcome the government’s efforts to cut red tape and hope that regulation in the tax system continues to be a focus of these efforts. Given the complexity of our tax system, there are myriad opportunities for reform, ranging from specific policy changes to administrative changes. These include duplication of information requests, inefficient forms of election and streamlining opportunities to name just a few.

We approached our members over the Christmas/New Year period for suggestions as to areas in the tax system where the deregulation initiative could start to be targeted.

The suggestions we have received so far are:
  • many returns and associated ATO forms cannot yet be lodged electronically and/or cannot be downloaded electronically;
  • duplication of reporting obligations for closely held trusts such as the requirement to prepare a TFN report and TB statements;
  • various improvements to compliance with the transfer pricing rules contained in Div 815 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (Cth) are required;
  • level of loan documentation required to comply with Div 7A is burdensome;
  • for deregulating taxation of individuals:
    • the definition of Income Test should be standardised instead of having different income tests for different purposes; and
    • allow a personal services entity (PSE) to pay a PAYG instalment amount calculated by the ATO, rather than the PSE having to determine the amount of the PAYG instalment;
  • taxable payments reporting in the building and construction industry through the “Taxable Payments Annual Report” serves to increase compliance costs on already compliant taxpayers;
  • the method for calculating foreign exchange gains and losses for small entities transacting with non-resident entities in the same group needs to be simplified; and
  • complexity of small business CGT concessions makes it difficult for taxpayers to confirm whether they qualify for a concession under these rules.
We will continue to look for opportunities for reducing regulation and the compliance burden of the Australian tax and transfer system. We will use the various options open to us, such as liaising with the deregulation division in Treasury and through our regular consultation activities with the ATO, to assist the government with this initiative.

When amending tax laws, consultation is key as the need for deregulation should be balanced with the need for genuine tax reform. A focus on wholesale tax reform would lead to a more efficient tax system that would deliver benefits over the long run.

Michael Flynn CTA is President of the National Council at The Tax Institute.

The Tax Institute is 
Australia's leading professional association in tax. Its 13,000 members include tax agents, accountants and lawyers as well as tax practitioners in corporations, government and academia.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Speaker Profile: Taxpayer Alerts – Be Alert and Alarmed

In the latest speaker profile in our series, we sit down with Tony Riordan, CTA from Riordans Lawyers who is presenting the Taxpayer Alerts – Be Alert and Alarmed session with Arthur Athanasiou, CTA at the upcoming 2014 Private Business Tax Retreat.

Tell us about yourself

I am the tax partner at Riordans Lawyers a boutique commercial practice in Melbourne’s CBD. I have a particular interest in the structuring of entities and in trust law.

How long have you been affiliated with The Tax Institute?

I have been involved in The Tax Institute’s activity for in excess of 25 years.

What does the 2014 Private Business Tax Retreat mean to you, and more broadly, to the tax industry?

The Private Business Tax Retreat enables an exchange of views and the enhancement of knowledge in a collegiate atmosphere.

What is the topic that you are presenting at the 2014 Private Business Tax Retreat?

I will be presenting on two topics at the retreat, Session 1 “Taxpayer Alerts – Be Alert and Alarmed” and Session 5 “Lessons from Experience – Business Entity Structuring”. I will also be involved in the panel discussion in Session 6 “Case Study Session Covering the Issues Raised in Session 5 – Learning from the Experience of our Leading Tax Professionals”.

What can attendees expect to learn from your session?

Session 1 will look at some of the practical issues of the Taxpayer Alert System. Session 5 will, amongst other things, provide an understanding of the relevant control mechanisms available for inter-generational transfer of discretionary trusts and the entities which they own, how those mechanisms have been applied in the past, and how they can be adapted to meet inter-generational change issues in the future.

What new or hot topics will you cover?

I will be discussing both the amendment of deeds after Clark, and the inclusion of sophisticated Protector Clauses.

How will attending your session help delegates help their clients?

It is hoped that both sessions will provide delegates with improved insights into the topics.

Which other sessions at the conference are you most interested in attending?

I am looking forward to the session “Professional practice structures”.

What do you like to do when you’re not knee-deep in tax?

I enjoy spending time with my family and keeping fit.

We are now in our 4th year, and this Queensland signature event is only getting better and better. Join us on the Gold Coast, at the beautiful Palazzo Versace Hotel for the 2014 Private Business Tax Retreat.

Find out more about the conference and register now.