Friday, 29 August 2014

August's free member tax presentations

Here’s a selection of presentations from our leading events series from August.

Members of The Tax Institute can access these presentations for free by clicking the links below (make sure you’re logged in to our website first).

Non-members can purchase the presentations for only $15 each.
Don’t forget, a Tax Knowledge eXchange subscription gives you unlimited access to these papers, presentations, articles from our journals, and much more.

Tax Knowledge eXchange
The Tax Institute runs over 300 CPD seminars a year, and all papers and PowerPoint presentations provided by the speakers from our seminars are available through the website individually or through a Tax Knowledge eXchange subscription.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Searching for a “savvy” tax administrator

The Pt IVA panel session at the Corporate Tax Retreat highlighted to me the importance of the approach that the ATO takes to the administration of our tax laws. One of the givens of our income tax system is that people should generally only pay tax on their economic gains, but a consequence of our increasingly complex laws is that transactions may, on a literal interpretation of the law, trigger significant tax liabilities even though they do not produce any economic gain.
One example provided during the panel session on Pt IVA was the acquisition by a non-resident of an Australian tax consolidated group. In the example provided, if the non-resident acquired the group directly, it might trigger CGT event L5. CGT event L5 can happen if the tax cost of assets is less than the liabilities. It is a quirk of the law that the acquisition of a tax consolidated group by a second tax consolidated group does not give rise to an L5 gain, whereas the acquisition of the same group by a single entity can give rise to a capital gain.
As an alternative to acquiring the Australian group directly, if the non-resident establishes a new Australian tax consolidated group to acquire the Australian group, it would avoid triggering CGT event L5. Could the creation of an Australian tax consolidated group to acquire another Australian tax consolidated group give rise to a tax benefit?
In an article published in the February 2014 issue of The Tax Specialist, Grant Wardell-Johnson suggested that a “savvy” tax administrator would not apply Pt IVA if an acquirer established a tax consolidated group simply to avoid the application of CGT event L5. But when the question was posed at the panel session on Pt IVA at the Corporate Tax Retreat, the ATO was unable to rule out the application of Pt IVA, although it appears that, if there were commercial reasons for the establishment of the tax consolidated group, Pt IVA should not apply.
This is but one example of many instances where a strict application of the law could give rise to an unexpected tax liability. The new Commissioner of Taxation, Chris Jordan, has indicated that he would like the ATO to exercise pragmatism in its administration of the law. I hope that that message filters down through the hierarchy to the auditors and the other individuals dealing on a face-to-face basis with taxpayers.

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.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Inaugural meeting of the new Tax Reform Committee

This week The Tax Institute's new Tax Reform Committee held its inaugural meeting. The Committee is comprised of an impressive and diverse line up of members from various backgrounds in public practice, commerce, government and academia, and is chaired by our President Michael Flynn CTA.

The creation of the Committee this year formalises the importance of big picture thinking on tax reform as part of the Institute's policy and advocacy activities. The calibre of the volunteers on this Committee is an indication that there is a genuine interest within the Institute's membership in contributing to the overall design of the tax system. 

There is no doubt the Institute's work on coal face issues is very important and has a significant and direct impact on members on a practical level. Having moved to the Institute at the beginning of this year from professional practice I am well aware that, as a tax practitioner, the concerns of specific clients, the vagaries of ATO guidance, the minutiae of the Tax Act and tax administration take up most of your day. Stepping back from these pressing daily issues and questioning how the tax system could be fairer, more efficient and simpler is no easy task. The Committee indicates that our members are up to the challenge.
Members do not need to be on the Committee to contribute to the Institute's conversation on tax reform. Please contact us at with your ideas.

Also please join The Tax Institute on LinkedIn for news and updates and to discuss key issues in tax with other professionals.

Thilini Wickramasuriya ATI is Tax Counsel at The Tax Institute.

The Tax Institute is 
Australia's leading professional association in tax. Its 15,000 members include tax agents, accountants and lawyers as well as tax practitioners in corporations, government and academia.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Upgrading your tax qualifications and meeting your CPD requirements

Taxation and Practice

August sees us publish the long-awaited third edition of the pre-eminent source for immediate, authoritative answers to trusts and estates issues, with Marks’ Trusts & Estates: Taxation and Practice being fully revised and updated for 2014.
Find out more about this online title by visiting
CPD requirements for upcoming year

With the new financial year underway, it is a fantastic time to start planning for how you will acquire your CPD requirements.
We offer our members several industry-relevant publications and events that provide current information to help you stay up-to-date. These offerings are made available to you in a variety of formats — be that at one of our state conferences or seminars, online, in person or by DVD — and are continually being updated and developed to meet the needs of our members.
You will find upcoming events, courses and publications to help you meet your CPD requirements on our website at upcoming-cpd-events.
Upgrade your tax qualifications

We are all so busy throughout the year, it can be easy to put off taking courses that help us stay up-to-date with our tax education requirements. With your membership renewed for the upcoming financial year, it is the perfect time to map out a plan to update the qualifications of yourself or your staff in 2014-15.
The Institute offers courses to cater for all of your tax requirements, with courses that lead into the CTA designation, in GST, tax law and financial advising. Although Study Period 2 is already underway, you can still register for several of our courses in 2014, including:
If you or your staff are looking to achieve BAS agent status, our Course in Basic GST/BAS Taxation Principles is available at any time. Similarly, if you or anyone you know is looking for a way to meet the requirements under the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 for financial advisers advising on tax, we now offer a Tax for Financial Advising course which you can undertake at your own convenience.

Find out more about our course offerings, important study dates and how to enrol on our website’s education section at

Noel Rowland
Noel Rowland is Chief Executive Officer 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, 15 August 2014

Dispute resolution and Project DO IT

Dispute resolution

This week The Tax Institute appeared before the House of Representatives Tax and Revenue Committee to give evidence relating to our submission to the Committee’s inquiry into the ATO’s handling of dispute resolution. The Tax Institute's President, Michael Flynn CTA and Co-Chair of our Dispute Resolution Committee, Dr Niv Tadmore CTA, joined Tax Counsel, Thilini Wickramasuriya ATI at the Committee hearing.

The Committee comprises ten members of the House of Representatives, with six Government MPs and four non-Government MPs. It is Chaired by former tennis great, John Alexander OAM, MP.

The Hansard containing our evidence will be available on the Parliament House website in the coming days. We look forward to again engaging with the Tax and Revenue Committee on future hearings into other important issues affecting members.

Project DO IT

Members would be aware of the ATO’s offshore income voluntary disclosure initiative, Project DO IT.

We at the Institute supported the initiative at the time of the launch as it reflected a pragmatic approach to encouraging taxpayers to return revenue that is currently outside of the tax system. For taxpayers it is a chance to bring funds onshore in the shadow of increasing international cooperation on exchange of information.

There have been a number of other offshore income voluntary disclosure initiatives in the past but this initiative contains some unique features: the ATO won’t go back beyond the standard amendment period; and it may also agree not to tax taxpayers on the winding-up of their offshore structures. However, there are features that taxpayers should be wary of, such as not being entitled to utilise certain losses and shortfall interest charges.
Five months on, the uptake amongst taxpayers has been quite slow. The ATO advises that more than 100 disclosures have been received, with total additional income disclosed of around $12 million. The ATO has also received almost 200 expressions of interest from taxpayers that intend to lodge a disclosure but are seeking more time to finalise. There are clearly many issues to consider, such as:
  • How does the Tax Office regard taxpayers with legacy issues?
  • How long does it take to get a resolution?
  • Will the ATO only seek to collect tax for the past 4 years or will it go to the principal sum?
  • What is the go forward position of the taxpayer?

I encourage Sydney-based members to register for The Tax Institute’s upcoming event:  “Project Do IT: what does the Tax ‘Amnesty’ really mean to you?” on 21 August in Sydney.  Hear from ATO Deputy Commissioner, Michael Cranston, as well as practitioners including Ken Schurgott CTA-life, in this three hour session. There will also be a Q&A Panel with all of the speakers.  You can register or read more about the event here. For our members not in Sydney, keep an eye on our website for a webinar on the subject later in the year.
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.