Friday, 26 June 2015

The National Tax Liaison Group

Last Thursday 18 June 2015, Tax Institute President Stephen Healey CTA, National Councillor Tim Neilson CTA, Tax Counsel Thilini Wickramasuriya FTI and myself all attended the ATO's National Tax Liaison Group meeting. At the meeting, a number of issues were covered, including:

  • Treasury provided an update regarding emerging themes coming through from submissions received so far in response to the “Re:Think" Tax Discussion Paper, which included broad agreement that the tax system is too complex, and noted there were divided views around reform of certain areas of the system including corporate tax, small business tax and GST;
  • An update from the ATO on its ‘Reinvention' program discussed with NTLG members;
  • A progress report on the ‘Review of ATO Advice and Guidance' that has been running over the past few months, as well as the ‘Renovating ATO Rulings' project on which The Tax Institute is working closely with the ATO; and
  • The ATO provided an update on the progress of the review of the consultation framework for which we should shortly see the outcome.

We will continue to update and involve members as these matters progress.


Also, members should note that on Wednesday this week, the Tax Laws Amendment (Small Business Measures No. 3) Bill 2015 was introduced into Parliament just before Parliament rose yesterday. The Bill introduces the following 2015-16 Federal Budget measures:

  • the 5% tax offset for unincorporated small business entities (capped at $1,000);
  • the immediate deduction for professional costs for new small businesses; and
  • the FBT exemption for portable devices for small businesses.

However, we are not going to see legislation bringing in the CGT rollover relief for small businesses who restructure until Parliament next sits in Spring, which begins on 10 August.

As always, members are invited to contact us via the Tax Policy inbox regarding any policy and advocacy matters.


Stephanie Caredes CTA is a 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.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

State's Taxation Conference speaker profile: Amanda Spinks

Amanda is a Senior Manager and has been in the Employment Taxes practice in Sydney for just over nine years.  In addition to corporate clients, she does a lot of work with government entities and the not-for-profit sector. Amanda specialises in assisting her clients with their people strategies, focusing on taxation. Her key areas of speciality include advisory and compliance for payroll tax, superannuation, PAYG withholding and fringe benefits tax. Amanda also provides extensive advice regarding taxation and reporting obligations for employee share schemes and termination payments, including genuine redundancies.

How long have you been affiliated with The Tax Institute?

Ever since starting my Masters in Accounting ten years ago I have been using the Tax Institute as a resource tool. I also presented a Tax Institute FBT refresher webinar in March this year.

What does the States Taxation Conference mean to you, and more broadly, to the tax industry?

At the State Taxes Conference, I will be most interested in the payroll tax sessions. I see it as a valuable opportunity to gain insight into the current approaches being taken by the Revenue Offices. I am also excited to meet like-minded people and share tax war-stories!

What is the topic that you are presenting? And what can attendees expect to learn from your session?

I am co-presenting the topic “Employees, Contractor and Other – Is “wages to an employee” an out-dated concept. We will be looking at how contractors and employees are assessed for payroll tax and how this position has evolved over time.

In addition to dissecting current interpretations of the legislation, we will also be highlighting ways that output from existing tools isn’t necessarily reliable and what to look out for when engaging new workers.

How will attending your session help delegates help their clients?

By being aware of recent developments, delegates will be able to accurately assess their clients’ workers for payroll tax and be able to help with planning opportunities to minimise any compliance burdens.

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

I will have my payroll tax hat on quite firmly for the conference and am particularly interested in the “Inter-Jurisdictional issues” session.

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

My ideal weekend involves playing outdoors with my two young boys, watching AFL, good wine and dinner with friends.


Join us in Canberra  for The Tax Institute's 15th Annual States Taxation ConferenceWith an expert team of leading tax professionals shaping the content and a growing list of delegates who are amongst the best and brightest in the tax profession, the National Convention is undoubtedly the premier taxation conference in Australia.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Time-management tactics to try this EOFY

Nothing tests your ability to crunch deadlines quite like the end of financial year (EOFY). The weeks leading up to the last day of June are often ruled by mountains of paperwork and an endless series of tasks. However, employing a few clever strategies can preserve your sanity and help you optimise the hours you spend at your desk – especially if it’s your first as a full-time tax professional. Here are four top time-management tactics to apply this EOFY.

1. Embrace the Pomodoro technique

Conceived in the 1980s by the entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro technique is a foolproof trick for enhancing mental clarity and saving time. Using a timer, work solidly on a task for a 25-minute period before rewarding yourself with a five-minute break. Adhering to strict time increments can help you power through your to-do list. It also chases away the urge to procrastinate. And no need to place an egg timer on your desk – there's an app you can download straight to your smartphone.

2. Keep a daily task list

When you’re faced with serious deadlines, it’s important to know what work to tackle first. Whether you prefer to use the to-do list function in Microsoft Outlook or old-fashioned pen and paper, outlining the tasks you need to accomplish each day and ranking them from low priority to high priority is a clever way to take control of your time. Although the power of the to-do list is well documented, it’s equally important to consider the things that can wait until after 30 June. When compiling your daily tasks, strike out the non-essential items and relegate them to a work period that’s lower pressure.

3. Tackle the most challenging task first

When you’re faced with a daunting project complete with administrative hurdles, it’s tempting to put it off. But if you start your day by addressing the most difficult task on your agenda before moving on to less pressing things, you’ll stand a higher chance of managing your time and energy effectively.

4. Batch-process tasks

Multitasking might be a modern phenomenon, but you’ll be far more efficient if you focus on one thing at a time. Whether it’s responding to an overflowing inbox or reconciling urgent accounts, blocking out time to batch-process your duties is a powerful tactic for bolstering productivity and conserving your hours.
From working within short increments to completing your most difficult task first, mastering the art of time management can make for a smooth lead-up towards EOFY. What’s your favourite time-management trick?


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Friday, 19 June 2015

Single Touch Payroll

As previously reported in TaxVine, on 10 June 2015 the Small Business Minister Bruce Billson MP committed to undertake further consultation on the Government's Single Touch Payroll initiative around the 1 July 2016 commencement date and conducting a targeted pilot. Last Friday I attended a consultation with ATO and Treasury to discuss the Institute's thoughts on the revamped approach.

Single Touch Payroll will now only be mandatory in relation to reporting and not in relation to payment obligations. This was one of the main concerns raised by members in relation to the initiative and it has now been addressed. It will be important to ensure that the expected compliance cost savings are maintained despite the separation of payment and reporting obligations.

The proposal to further test the initiative with a pilot program is welcome news, and shows that the Government has taken on board the feedback of smaller businesses and recognised their need for further support and assistance to prepare for Single Touch Payroll. The pilot should bear out whether the initiative is beneficial for very small businesses and closely-held entities who currently do not use payroll software.

Overall the Government's decision to take their foot off the pedal and engage in more consultation on this initiative is a positive step. The Institute supports Single Touch Payroll and can see the benefits it can yield. It is worth taking the time to get it right.

The Institute's written submission in relation to Single Touch Payroll is available here.

There will be a consultation with other key stakeholders next Wednesday 24 June so please contact us at Tax Policy with any further thoughts on this initiative.



Thilini Wickramasuriya FTI is a 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.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

State's Taxation Conference speaker profile: Tony Ince

Tony has been involved in indirect tax since last century and is a self-described “tax tragic” with a particular interest in Commonwealth/state “vertical fiscal imbalance” and the states capacity to raise tax. With the release of the Tax Reform Discussion Paper, he has been involved with The Tax Institute in preparing a submission.

How long have you been affiliated with The Tax Institute?

More than 25 years (I joined young).

What does the State's Taxation Conference mean to you?

I have been a long time attendee at the Annual States Taxation Conference and see it as means to look at state tax issues. This conference was, I believe, largely responsible for the move to harmonisation of the payroll tax legislation Australia-wide.

What is the topic you are presenting? And, what can attendees expect to learn from your session?

Payroll Tax: Inter-Jurisdictional Issues.

Good question. How much the various state and territory payroll tax legislation have come together in recent years but also the issues that continue to be a concern for employers who have employees in more than one jurisdiction.

How will attending your session help delegates help their clients?

Practically, it will show the pitfalls for employers with employees in more than one jurisdiction. On a higher level, perhaps it will demonstrate the inadequacy of payroll tax and the need for broader tax reform.

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

Employee, Contractor and Other – Is “Wages to an Employee” an Outdated Concept?

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

Family (we have three delightful granddaughters), and I surf whenever I can. I also enjoy a glass of red wine every now and then for the health benefits. The rest of the bottle is for my witty come-backs and flawless dance moves.


Join us in Canberra  for The Tax Institute's 15th Annual States Taxation ConferenceWith an expert team of leading tax professionals shaping the content and a growing list of delegates who are amongst the best and brightest in the tax profession, the National Convention is undoubtedly the premier taxation conference in Australia.