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Showing posts from June, 2012

The benefits of being president of The Tax Institute

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One of the benefits of being president is that you get to go to extremely good Tax Institute conventions at marvellous venues. In May, I attended the Queensland Division’s Private Business Retreat, held on the Gold Coast, and then the South Australian State Convention in the Barossa Valley. Both had excellent programs with great presenters and were thoroughly enjoyed by all delegates.

The Queensland event was focused on changing businesses from trusts to company structures and featured very valuable workshops. The Palazzo Versace venue made just being there highly enjoyable notwithstanding the bucketing rain), but I blanched at the cost of the beautiful Versace cup and saucer desired by my wife.

The South Australian Convention had the wow factor which we can all try to emulate. Something good is going on when three-quarters of the 200-plus delegates attend the "super-Saturday" morning sessions after a fabulous dinner the night before (entertained by the Novacastrian fakir a…

Q&A with SMSF Guide author Jemma Sanderson, ATI

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Tell us a little about yourself, how long have you been in practice now?

I have been practicing almost exclusively with respect to SMSF’s for close to 11 years now. A lot has changed over that time. I became a member of The Tax Institute in 2006. I studied at the University of Western Australia, obtaining a Bachelor of Commerce, and once I started working in the industry, completed additional study in the relevant areas.

This is your fifth year of presenting our Superannuation Roadshows, how did you find it this time out?

There are always changes occurring with respect to superannuation that we need to be aware of, with the practicalities of the implementation of strategies being big areas of concern this year. The format change of the Roadshow to include several workshop case studies hopefully provided a more hands-on approach for practitioners. It was also a benefit that my luggage wasn’t lost on my way to Darwin, like it was last year.

What was the general mood amongst practitioner…

Territory reform sets example for states

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Our nation’s Capital city, Canberra, usually only features on the stage of national political debate when used as a synonym to describe the Federal Government. This may be about to change with respect to reforming inefficient taxes.

You would be forgiven for missing it, but the ACT Government recently handed down its Budget for 2012-13. Included in the Budget was a five year reform plan towards a fairer, simpler and more efficient tax system. That’s right, a Territory (let alone a State) Government proposing to reform their own inefficient tax base and what’s more, without any caveats involving financial assistance from the Federal Government.

The States and Territories impose some of the least efficient and worst designed taxes in Australia. Stamp duty is a standout. Why is there a disincentive for people to move homes and locations for work purposes for example, with huge sums being payable as stamp duty on property conveyances? Insurance duties also create a perverse situation wher…

Launching Australian tax professionals onto the world stage

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By the time you read this month’s President’s Report, the exciting news about the Chartered Tax Adviser designation will have broken. It was my great privilege, together with Anthony Thomas, the immediate past president of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT), to make the announcement on Tuesday, 29 May 2012. Because the standards of our members match those of the CIOT, all of our members who are presently Fellows of The Tax Institute gain the Chartered Tax Adviser designation.

This achievement recognises the status and standing of our senior members in their tax advisory skills. Of course, responsibility accompanies status and recognition, and members who take up the new designation will be required to maintain higher levels of professional development activity than other members.

Our younger members often travel and live internationally to gain knowledge and experience. In future, their status as a Chartered Tax Adviser will bring them immediate recognition in the United Kingd…

A mixed bag of tax announcements

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The last quarter has been filled with movements on the tax front, largely owing to changes announced in the Budget, ongoing developments in relation to previously announced changes (such as Part IVA and transfer pricing reform) and more recently announced Board of Taxation reviews into problematic areas, such as a review of Division 7A and separate entity treatment for permanent establishments.

These announcements represent a mixed bag for our members. The Budget announcements winding back many of the previously announced tax reforms following the release of the Henry review such as the introduction of the standard deduction and a cut in the company tax rate represented a disappointing step away from important tax reform measures. Conversely, the Government’s announcement of the introduction of a limited carry-back of revenue losses is broadly a step in the right direction that will assist thousands of small to medium enterprises in tough economic circumstances.

More recently, at The …

It’s time for trust tax reform

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Last week The Tax Institute called on the Federal Government to recommit to the fundamentally important area of trust tax reform, given the recent months of apparent inaction.

As members are only too aware, the ongoing uncertainty around trust taxation is one of the top reform issues and the lack of a clear reform timeline is unacceptable.

The Government had originally committed to release its policy design paper last month. This hasn't happened, so with the reforms obviously requiring more time, the lack of an announced revised timeline is creating greater uncertainty over a complex, cumbersome and critically out-of-date area of the tax system.

In light of Treasury’s resource-constraints, it is disappointing to see the apparent lack of focus on a reform that will assist taxpayers by reducing their compliance burden.

We have called on the Federal Government to end the radio silence on the time schedule for reform and show renewed commitment to this project by immediately releasing…

Media release: Delay of overdue trust tax reform unacceptable

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The Tax Institute has called on the Federal Government to recommit to the fundamentally important area of trust tax reform after months of eerie silence and further delays.

According to Robert Jeremenko, Senior Tax Counsel at The Tax Institute, ongoing uncertainty around trust taxation is one of the top reform issues for tax professionals in Australia and the delay in implementing reforms is unacceptable.

"According to their own timeline, the Government had committed to release its policy design paper by May this year.

"Instead the process is already behind schedule creating greater uncertainty over a complex, cumbersome and critically out-of-date area of the tax system.

"Since the release of the initial Consultation Paper in November 2011, the reform has largely stalled to the detriment of a significant number of taxpayers dealing with ongoing complexity and uncertainty."

"In light of Treasury’s resource-constraints, it is disappointing to see the lack of foc…

CTA – a new global tax designation

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A global designation for members of The Tax Institute

In recognition of the standards of excellence in our programs and the reputation of our members for their tax expertise, on 29 May 2012, The Tax Institute launched the global tax designation Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) in Australia.

Exclusive to members of The Tax Institute, this initiative is the result of the signing of a licensing agreement between The Tax Institute and the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) in the UK.

Until this year, the Chartered Tax Adviser designation was held only by members of the CIOT, but it has been extended in a bid to recognise and promote the highest standards of tax advice internationally. The Tax Institute is only the third tax body to be granted the ability to designate its members as Chartered Tax Advisers.

For more information on the launch and how the new designation affects you, visit our dedicated web page.

The mark of expertise

The Tax Institute and its members are known for delivering t…

Leading the fight against retrospective tax law

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Early last week the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics inquired into the Bill containing the retrospective changes to TOFA and the consolidation rights to future income rules.

The Tax Institute was the only professional association to take the fight against retrospectivity to the Committee in the form of a detailed submission. We were also the only witnesses (with Treasury) called to present evidence in person to the Committee.

A big thank you to both Peter Murray FTI (Life) (KPMG) and Andrew Hirst FTI (Greenwoods & Freehills) who joined me at the Committee hearing and lent their expert knowledge. Please refer to Hansard for the draft transcript of the hearing. The Committee will table its report including recommendations concerning the future of the Bill on 18 June and I will keep members updated.

Last week I also attended the bi-annual Treasury stakeholder consultation meeting. I led discussion on the topic of "tax policy and legislation consultation p…

Discouraging retrospective legislative changes

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There was a lot of "running around" in Federal Parliament last week, including with respect to tax legislation. As I mentioned previously, the Government introduced a significant amount of tax legislation into the House of Representatives. With respect to the Bill to enact the previously announced changes to the consolidation rights to future income rules and TOFA changes, last week saw the The Tax Institute's continuing advocacy against such retrospectivity result in that legislation being referred to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics for further inquiry.

Peter Murray FTI (Life) (KPMG) and Andrew Hirst FTI (Director) (Greenwoods & Freehills) will join me in presenting evidence to the Committee today in Canberra. Members are welcome to watch or listen to the web stream of the proceedings.

The importance of tax laws to taxpayer decision making and behaviour cannot be underestimated. As such, The Tax Institute strongly supports working within…