Tax agents and privacy – don't stick your head in the sand!

written by Robert Deutsch CTA *

A number of members of The Tax Institute have commented upon the Privacy Amendment (Notifiable Data Breaches) Act 2017 (‘the Act’) which commences to formally operate on 22 February 2018.

This is an important Act which has significant potential implications for tax practitioners.

The Act, while mercifully brief (coming to a mere 22 pages), is accompanied by an explanatory memorandum which runs to 104 pages. The explanatory memorandum's length in part explains some of the complexities that arise in the context of this legislation.

Who does the notifiable data breaches scheme apply to? For our immediate purposes, the critical point to understand is that the notifiable data breaches scheme which is introduced by this legislation applies to Tax File Number (TFN) recipients in relation to their handling of TFN information.

A TFN recipient is any person who is in possession or control of a record that contains TFN information, and TFN information is infor…

An exciting year ahead

written by Vince Lendrum *

Following a comprehensive review of our activities last year, including consultation with members and key stakeholders, 2018 will be a year of action.

We look forward to rolling out member service initiatives that will include an ever-richer selection of events and a renewed focus on key emerging demographics, such as women in the tax profession and younger practitioners. This will set us on the path to deliver on our mission of shaping the tax profession of the future.

Key events  I look forward to meeting many more members at our 33rd National Convention in Cairns from 14 to 16 March. The convention organising committee has brought together a diverse range of high-profile, expert presenters from across the profession to deliver the quality technical sessions that have become a hallmark of this landmark event. It is very exciting to take the National Convention to North Queensland for the first time, and to deliver on the member request for a “destination l…

Superannuation – a new, simple 15/15/0 regime

written by Robert Deutsch CTA *

At its most fundamental, superannuation is all about money being set aside throughout one’s working life so as to provide an adequate level of funding for one’s retirement. For many Australians, the superannuation nest egg is usually the second largest asset they will ever hold — the largest being the family home.

One would have thought that the idea that a fund could be set aside for each and every Australian to provide for their retirement funding would not be a complicated process and would not lead to convoluted legislation. How wrong one can be!

A key objective of a tax system is simplicity and yet, in the context of superannuation, we are as far away from that objective as ever.

In my opinion, our political masters, both past and present, should hang their collective heads in shame at the appalling state in which we now find superannuation. For the average person, the concepts that underpin superannuation are complex, abstract and basically beyond…

Member profile - Sylvia Villios

Dr Sylvia Villios is a Senior Lecturer in the Law School at the University of Adelaide, where she researches and teaches in taxation law.

We asked Sylvia about her career and life.

Member’s name Sylvia Villios CTA

Company Law School, University of Adelaide

State South Australia

Member since 2005

What led you to a career in tax? While I was completing my studies in law, I did some work experience at PwC in the tax area, which I really enjoyed. A year later, I was admitted to practice and continued down that path, working in the tax law area for six years, before entering into academia.

What are your current areas of specialty? My areas of specialty are researching and teaching in taxation law. The thematic strand uniting my research agenda is a keen interest in law reform aimed at making Australia’s tax system more efficient, equitable and simple. This is explored through my research, which is focused on examining the operation of the Australian tax system, taxation policy, corporate …

Business solvency – salvaging what you can: WA 'Dealing with a Client in Financial Distress' day

Clients can find themselves in financial distress for a wide range of reasons. And that financial distress can translate to real anxiety.
Clients often ignore the warning signs, which can lead to a situation that's much more difficult to emerge from. It's at this stage that an adviser is most likely asked to assist.

That said, the hallmark of a trusted professional is the ability to provide prudent advice when clients need it the most.
At the upcoming Dealing with a Client in Financial Distress event in Perth, a number of high-profile tax and legal specialists will be joined by representatives of the ATO to look at the causes and effects of financial distress, and the options available for businesses and individuals facing financial difficulties.
Dudley Elliott CTA, from Trove Advisory Group, has told us a little about what to expect from his session: 'Business solvency – salvaging what you can - tax and accounting considerations'.
“Usually, the last things on the min…

Cairns and the Convention – a focus on our program for accountants

2017 was a year of significant upheaval for tax and accounting professionals.
2018 will be no different, with new rules, new ATO initiatives, and the always-accelerating rate of technological change creating new opportunities (and new headaches) for most of us.
Against this backdrop, The Tax Institute's 2018 National Convention will feature a wide-ranging program that will cover the latest technical matters, with a strong focus on the international issues shaping Australian business and a close look at the ways the ATO has been – and will be – interacting with organisations.
Designed to be broad in nature, the program will feature the technical tax content that our National Convention has become synonymous with. It will also cover the latest developments that accountants, lawyers and other advisers to business need to know about.
Helping set the scene for the Convention – which will take place this year in Cairns – we ask how, in a period of near-constant change, you can ensure y…

'Swimming between the flags for professional service entities' – WA Professional Services Half Day

In December 2017, following a promised review, the Australian Taxation Office suspended the ‘Assessing the risk: allocation of profits within professional firms’ guidelines and Everett Assignment materials.
The review indicated that they were being misinterpreted in relation to arrangements that go beyond the scope of the guidelines, with the use of related party financing and self-managed super funds highlighted as being of particular concern.
Following the suspension, the ATO encouraged those professional practitioners who were contemplating entering into new arrangements from 14 December 2017 to contact them via early engagement. It indicated that arrangements entered into prior to 14 December that exhibit any high risk factors may still be subject to review.
This, however, is just one area of the income tax landscape for operating a professional services business that continues to perplex and confound advisers.
We spoke with Corey Beat CTA, a Principal in the Tax Services team at RSM …