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Showing posts from 2013

Looking back on 2013 (Part 2)

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I read with great interest the Productivity Commission’s research paper, “An ageing Australia; preparing for the future” (issued in November 2013). For some time, I have followed research in respect of our ageing population because to impact on the changing demographics will have a profound effect on our future government spending and the tax revenues to support spending. This, like other published reports, such as the 2010 Intergenerational Report and PwC’s 2013 report, “Protecting prosperity: why we need to talk about tax”, highlights the cost of our ageing population. The Productivity Commission’s research paper is focused on the spending side of the equation, and it confirms that the projected increase spend on items associated with ageing, health care, age pensions, age care and disability costs will grow from an estimated 20.7% of GDP in 2011-12 to 25.1% of GDP in 2059-60. The research paper states (on page 10):

“The principal indicator of future fiscal pressure is the degree to…

Speaker Profile: Tax and Financial Reporting

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In the latest speaker profile in our series, we sit down with Jason de Boer, FTI from Deloitte who is presenting the Tax and Financial Reporting session at the upcoming 29th National Convention in Hobart.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Jason de Boer and I am an Account Director with Deloitte Tax Services. I have been at Deloitte for just over 13 years specialising in corporate income taxation (with a specific specialisation in IFRS and tax effect accounting).

How long have you been affiliated with The Tax Institute?

I have only become affiliated with The Tax Institute relatively recently (in a formal sense) but have been a regular reader of Taxation in Australia over the course of my career.

What does National Convention mean to you, and more broadly, to the tax industry?

The National Convention to me is an excellent opportunity to exchange ideas and knowledge, and to hear from some of the leading experts in the industry. Building relationships with peers through networking is also a …

Wishing you a safe and happy festive season

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As the Institute’s 70th year comes to an end, we wish you all the very best for the holiday period and look forward to bringing members more great benefits and opportunities in 2014.

With the year quickly coming to a close, I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge those who have volunteered their time and hard work to make The Tax Institute the success it is — both this year and over the last 70 years. In particular, a very big thank you to our committees, volunteers, National Council and particularly Stephen Westaway, 2013 president, for their valuable contributions throughout the year.

2014 education key dates now available

Are you thinking of undertaking a structured education program in 2014?

All of the key dates, including early birds and enrolments, are now available on our website for The Chartered Tax Adviser Program, the Course in Australian Taxation Law, the Course in Commercial Law, and the Course in Basic GST/BAS Taxation Principles.

This is a great opportunity for …

Report from the latest NTLG meeting

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Last week I joined our President, Steve Westaway CTA, and Vice-President, Michael Flynn CTA, at the ATO's National Tax Liaison Group meeting. As the ATO's peak consultative forum, the NTLG discusses matters of strategic importance to the tax and super systems. Treasury also join the meeting, which enables a discussion on tax policy.

The minutes will be published in due course, but in the meantime, I can report that discussion at the meeting included the following topics:

The value of further exploring the pros and cons of an extra-statutory discretion for the Commissioner; ATO's Integrated Tax Design function;Update on the current ATO approach to alternative dispute resolution and settlements, including the appropriateness of the current approach and potential improvements; Transforming Tax Technical Decision Making project update;ATO's consultation arrangements, including health and status of the current arrangements and significant matters for consultation; ATO's …

Looking back on 2013 (Part 1)

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2013 may be remembered more for what didn't happen than what did.

We did get, to name a few things:

a new federal government;a new Pt IVA;a new registration requirement for financial planners who give tax advice;a concession to excess superannuation contributions tax;a proposed change to the debt/equity rules; anda change to the way consultation is conducted with the ATO.
We didn’t get:

a rewrite of Div 7A;a rewrite of trust taxation; andtax reform.
To be fair, there are some things we didn’t get that maybe we should be grateful for:

changes to how FBT will be calculated on motor vehicles;the imposition of a cap on deductible self-education expenses;the soon to be repealed resources rent tax and carbon tax; andchanges to the deductibility of interest related to foreign dividends.
Again, to be fair, a tax white paper is now on the government’s agenda, and the government has told us that it will advise us of its strategy to deal with the remaining list of tax measures soon.

Don’t miss …

Tax Adviser of the Year Awards have closed

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It’s very exciting times at The Tax Institute with nominations for our inaugural Tax Adviser of the Year Awards closing on 10 December.

With all our completed applications in, it is now up for our judging panel — made up of industry figures and members of the profession — to select our winners for 2014 in the categories of Emerging Tax Star, Tax Adviser of the Year, and Chartered Tax Adviser of the Year.

All the winners will be announced at next year’s gala dinner at the 29th National Convention in Hobart. Stay tuned.

29th National Convention

Included with your journal this month is a copy of the 29th National Convention program. Only just announced, Hobart is already looking to be one of our most popular conventions yet.

Long recognised as the essential event for anyone working in tax, attending the convention gives you up to 15 structured CPD hours, and the opportunity to grow your business and professional profile by networking with colleagues from around Australia.

The sessions, dev…

Speaker Profile: Ethical Issues for Tax Practitioners

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We sit down with Professor Gino Dal Pont from the University of Tasmania on Ethics in Practice for Tax Advisers to chat about the keynote speaker presentation he'll be presenting at the upcoming 29th National Convention in March 2014 in Hobart.

Tell us about yourself

I am a Professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Tasmania, with principal interests in equity and trusts, and professional responsibility. I have also taught tax law on and off for years at the Faculty, and retain a continuing interest in the area.

How long have you been affiliated with The Tax Institute?

I was a member in the early 2000s, as well as member of State Council (Tas) and National Education (for one year).

What does National Convention mean to you, and more broadly, to the tax industry?

I cannot comment on the broader industry, but I perceive it as the premier tax conference in Australia.

What is the topic that you are presenting at the 29th National Convention?

I am presenting the Ethical issues fo…

Consultation Steering Group

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Effective consultation is integral to ensuring the best outcome in tax law design, implementation and interpretation. This underscores the importance of the ATO getting its new consultation model right. The new arrangements were unveiled earlier this year, but they are only now starting to bed down.

The ATO now has eight key stewardship committees representing key relationships and systems, incorporating four liaison groups and four advisory groups covering major market segments and products. There are also 14 stakeholder relationship and management groups and 11 technical and special purpose groups focusing on specific issues for resolution. I won’t reproduce all of the committees/groups here, but please refer to the ATO consultation framework for further detail.

The Tax Institute’s members have a long history of engaging in consultation to develop and apply tax laws in the national interest. Our consultation efforts have spanned across technical issues, industry focused issues and AT…

November’s free member tax presentations

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

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 $12 each.

Many presentations have a related technical paper, which can also be found on the presentation’s page. Don’t forget, a Tax Knowledge eXchange subscription gives you unlimited access to these papers, presentations, articles from our journals, and much more.

The adviser on superannuation and retirement (Matthew Andruchowycz, CTA)Trust reform: A practitioner's perspective (Fabrizio Porcaro, CTA)Trusts: Current state of play (Arthur Athanasiou, CTA)Trust distributions: The good, the bad and the ugly... (Peter Slegers, CTA)Superannuation succession planning strategies (Nathan Papson, CTA and Murray Wyatt)GST update (Martin Booth, CTA)State taxes update (Cullen Smythe, CTA)Update on salary packaging (Donna Rubbo)Ta…

New ATO Taxpayer Alert

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Late on Friday the 22nd the ATO announced that it is reviewing arrangements involving accountants, lawyers and other professionals operating through partnerships of discretionary trusts. It did so by issuing Taxpayer Alert TA 2013/3: Purported alienation of income through discretionary trust partners.

As members would be aware, Taxpayer Alerts are the ATO’s early warning of significant new and emerging higher risk tax planning issues.

Importantly, the ATO acknowledges that professional practices may legitimately operate as a partnership of discretionary trusts, however, the focus is on the misuse of these structures to avoid tax.

The ATO is concerned that the structures may result in an individual purporting to alienate income attributable to their professional services to a trustee partner.
In some cases the arrangement may:

be ineffective in alienating the individual's income,have CGT consequences for the individual which have not been correctly recognised, orinvolve a scheme to …

The importance of making time for yourself

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I made comments recently on people becoming time-poor. I attended a presentation recently where I was reminded of the importance of making time for yourself. It is during this time that you review your successes and shortcomings. While your successes provide a boost for your ego, your greatest satisfaction comes when you reflect on what you have done wrong, learn from the experience, and change. I find that my best work comes from when I have time to think, time to collect my thoughts and energy. I escape on my bike or on a trek. I find me, I find energy, and I find inspiration. I hope each of you do likewise in your own way. When you take this time for yourself, it is when you are most open to change and new ideas. You listen, you hear and you grow. So much for words of wisdom. A president’s role covers a lot!

I recently had the privilege of attending the Tasmanian State Convention and the state council monthly meeting. The convention and team work were impressive. Tasmania may have …

Insight into Offshore Banking Units

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We sit down with Ultan McDonald from CBA to chat about the session he’ll be co-presenting with Tony Frost, CTA, Greenwood & Freehills, at the upcoming Financial Services Taxation Conference in February 2014 on the Gold Coast.

Born in Ireland Ultan McDonald first arrived in Australia in 1985 and immediately joined the booming (and just deregulated) banking industry. He has spent most of his career in Markets with CBA and have been primarily based in Sydney with stints in Melbourne and London. He is married to Sally and has a daughter, Louisa.

How long have you been affiliated with The Tax Institute?

Peripheral affiliation only and only over the last 7 years.

What is the topic that you are presenting at the Financial Services Taxation Conference?

Offshore Banking Units.

What can attendees expect to learn from your session?

Hopefully they’ll gain a practical insight in to matters OBU.

What new or hot topics will you cover?

Recently proposed and then deferred changes to OBU rules.

How will…

Voices from history: Judy Sullivan

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Judy Sullivan, CTA is a Tax Partner, PWC.

How long have you been a member of The Tax Institute?

I’ve been a member of The Tax Institute ever since I started my career…back in the dim dark 80s!

How has the Institute changed in that time?

The extent of interaction with the tax office…it’s a two way process now. It used to be more about the tax profession versus the tax office and now it’s so much more integrated. On the committees you find that you’re interacting with the ATO a lot and when you’re looking at something as complex as the tax system, it’s important to understand their perspective.

Do you have a message for the Institute on it’s 70th anniversary?

Happy Anniversary! It’s the platinum anniversary for the 70th. I think some of the qualities of platinum are lustrous and malleable and very resistant to wear and tear and tarnish…I think that’s a good thing for The Tax Institute because what we’re looking for is something really relevant going forward. As far as the members of the In…

New income tax cases update

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We sit down with Joanne Dunne, CTA, Partner at Minter Ellison Melbourne to chat about the session she’ll be presenting at the upcoming Financial Services Taxation Conference in February 2014 on the Gold Coast.

Joanne is both Australian and New Zealand qualified and advises clients in both jurisdictions. She has been affiliated with The Tax Institute for a decade.

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

It’s the only specialist conference where tax specialists in this industry sector get together.

What is the topic that you are presenting at the Financial Services Taxation Conference?

Case Law Update.

What can attendees expect to learn from your session?

Attendees will be given an overview of the income tax cases in the Federal Court and above since the last conference, including statistics on win/loss ratio for the Commissioner and taxpayer, & any trends in the Courts. Overseas cases of interest to this industry will al…

Institute advises government on unenacted tax measures

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The Government is currently deciding which of the 64 remaining unenacted tax measures it will adopt and progress through to law.

As I reported last week, The Tax Institute provided advice to the Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer and the Board of Taxation on the key priority measures that we strongly recommend be progressed through Parliament by 1 July 2014.

After extensive consultation with members, these measures are:

Capital Gains Tax – look-through treatment for earn out arrangements;Consolidation – operation of rules following a demerger;Debt/equity tax rules – limiting scope of integrity rule; GST cross-border transactions – ‘connected with Australia’ rules; andAdministration of GST system - multi-party transactions & grouping rules.
In addition, there are several measures in the list of 64 that have been announced for the purpose of providing improvements and necessary corrective action/care and maintenance to the taxation system that should still be addressed at a later stage:

L…

Sharing your success stories

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This month, we’re celebrating our member’s success stories. Have one you want to share with us?

Look out for our success stories

Keep an eye out for some of our new candidate and employer success stories in this journal and other publications. It’s great to see some of our very own go on to achieve their goals, and help us promote the CTA1 Foundations and CTA2 Advanced courses.

CTA Program – choose the level that meets your needs

Enrolments for all of our Chartered Tax Adviser Program courses for study period 1 in 2014 are now open.

The program provides different levels of dedicated tax education to meet the needs of all tax professionals. The courses — CTA1 Foundations, CTA2 Advanced, and CTA3 Advisory Exam — build on each other to produce tax advisers with the professional tax skills and acute commercial skills to join our growing international network of Chartered Tax Advisers.

Summer sale

Our annual summer sale launches in mid-November. Keep an eye out for the launch email in your in…

Tax deferred distributions

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We sit down with Antoinette Elias, CTA from EY to chat about the session she’ll be presenting at the upcoming Financial Services Taxation Conference in February 2014 on the Gold Coast.

Antoinette is the Oceania Asset Management Sector Leader at EY and a Tax Partner advising clients in the FS industry. She has 29 years of experience as a tax advisor, has been affiliated with The Tax Institute for over 25 years and is married with 3 children aged 19, 24 and 26.

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

It’s the pre-eminent conference for tax professionals and practitioners in the Financial Services Industry.

What is the topic that you are presenting at the Financial Services Taxation Conference?

Tax Deferred Distributions.

What can attendees expect to learn from your session?

The latest developments in relation to the taxation implications of making tax deferred distributions.

What new or hot topics will you cover?

The industry’…

Voices from history: Gil Levy

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Gil Levy, CTA is a Tax Partner with MGI Sydney.

How long have you been a member of The Tax Institute?

I've been a member since 1974, I think … it seems a long time ago! I was president from 2003 to 2004.

How did the Institute evolve during your time as president?

Externally at the time I was president there was talk about regulation of the profession, which has since turned into the Tax Agent Services Act in recent times. That’s been going now for about ten years. We were concerned about becoming a recognised professional association so that members could become tax agents.

A lot of time and effort was put into what we needed to do to change the way the organisation operated so it could qualify. That brings you to structured education, exams and qualifications.

After I ceased my term as president we set up an examinations board and study group, the start of what became the structured education program and has extended most excitingly to the Chartered Tax Adviser qualification.

Do you…

Strengthening the case for policy and tax reform

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We sit down with Prof. John Freebairn from the University of Melbourne to chat about the session he’ll be presenting at the upcoming Financial Services Taxation Conference in February 2014 on the Gold Coast.

John Freebairn holds the Ritchie Chair of Economics at the University of Melbourne. His research interests include the analysis of policy reform options for taxation, with publications in Australian economics and taxation journals. He has provided advice on taxation reform to the Labor and Coalition parties of the commonwealth and to the Victorian government.

What does the Financial Services Taxation conference mean to you, and more broadly, to the tax industry?

The conference is an opportunity to discuss with actual taxation practitioners some of the challenges and options for reforming Australia’s taxation system to support a more productive economy, to improve equity and to provide revenue for the likely growing expenditure programs of the commonwealth, state and local governmen…

Our submission on unenacted tax measures

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Last week The Tax Institute responded to the Government’s request for advice on the remaining 64 unenacted tax measures.

In doing so, we focused on determining "whether there are any unintended consequences from not proceeding with the measures or whether there are compelling reasons why the measure should proceed". That is, whether there is good reason for keeping a measure other than to provide certainty and efficiency and prevent taxpayers from having to unwind transactions.

Further, the Government has committed to provide legislative protection to a taxpayer who has self-assessed and factored in an announced measure that will not proceed. There is also a promise of an entitlement to a refund where a taxpayer has complied with a previously announced measure and paid tax accordingly and the announced measure does not proceed.

With these conditions in mind, we identified only the priority measures that we strongly recommend be progressed through Parliament by 1 July 2014. I…

Valuing Volunteers

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This month, our president Steve Westaway discusses the importance of The Tax Institute’s volunteers and engagement with its members.

I’d like to say I have a lot to report, given our election is over and our new government is formed, but I haven’t. I am waiting like everyone else. Our key ministers are still putting their advisers in place and prioritising government business.

The Tax Institute, like many other bodies and taxpayers, is waiting to learn the state of play. Which of the 120-plus announced but unenacted measures are to stay? What measures will be proceeded with and which election promises will be prioritised? I sincerely hope we don’t get a set of draft releases on Christmas Eve.

My role as president has not solely been around tax policy and advocacy. It involves all aspects of The Tax Institute’s strategy and operations. As I have said regularly, the Institute’s strength comes from both volunteer engagement and member willingness to participate in Institute activities. Th…

Our 70th year is drawing to a close

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In our final article celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of The Tax Institute, we look at how the Institute and Australia’s tax system evolved during the 1990s and into the first decade of the new century.

The 1990s dawned with the country still in the grip of recession, with unemployment reaching 11.4%, the highest levels since the depression. By the mid-1990s, however, with the election of the Howard Liberal government in 1996 and massive changes to policy and government spending, Australia entered a long period of prosperity and growth.

The decade saw the introduction of the superannuation levy in 1992, and the regulation of self-managed funds was transferred to the ATO in 1999.

Tax avoidance was a strong focus at the end of the decade and new legislation around transfer pricing and taxation treaties with many overseas countries were introduced to counter this.

The most significant change to the tax system in decades was announced by the Howard government, and a period…

Starting to clear the fog of tax law

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Last week the Federal Government announced its plans to deal with the backlog of unlegislated tax laws. This is a welcome development for business and individuals across the country.

The Government’s move will scrap a number of unwelcome tax measures and start the process of clearing the fog of tax law that has created uncertainty and hamstrung businesses to make informed investment decisions.

In particular we applaud the Government for their sensible decision to scrap the cap on self-education expense deductions that was proposed by the previous government.

The Tax Institute has been the leading advocate for action to address the growing length of the unenacted tax law list.

We welcome both the Government’s acknowledgment of the long-held concerns of Tax Institute members and the commitment to action that should inject much-needed certainty into our tax system.

We look forward to consulting with the Government in the short period ahead to ensure appropriate decisions are made about th…

Help us continue to do things right

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2013 Annual Business and Professions Study

This month, The Tax Institute will once again participate in the annual Business and Professions Study conducted by Beaton Consulting. This survey will assist us to identify areas where there may be scope to improve member services and add further value to membership.

You should receive the survey in early November via email. I would encourage you to complete this survey to help us ensure we continue to do things right. The results of the survey should be available in 2014.

Nominations are now open for the Tax Adviser of the Year Awards

Hopefully by now you have heard about our inaugural Tax Adviser of the Year Awards. Designed to recognise the profession’s highest achievers, the awards continue the Institute’s commitment to honouring the best and brightest professionals in the tax industry.

If you believe these awards resonate with you, or a colleague or an employer of yours, this is your chance to be recognised by the industry’s leading tax …

How to nominate someone (or yourself) for a Tax Adviser of the Year Award

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Recognising the tax profession’s highest achievers

Whether you’re a rising star or an industry leader, the new Tax Adviser of the Year Awards have been designed to recognise people like you and your colleagues – the industry’s best tax practitioners.

Who to nominate

The awards are open to:

tax professionals with less than 5 years’ experience (Emerging Tax Star)tax professionals with more than 5 years’ experience (Tax Adviser of the Year); and/orChartered Tax Advisers with more than 10 years’ experience (Chartered Tax Adviser of the Year).
This is your chance to stand out and to be recognised by your peers and clients for your commitment to the profession and increase your firm’s profile.

To nominate yourself, or someone else, you will need:

an application form [PDF]a reference or letter of recommendationexamples of achievements in response to each criteria included on the formtranscripts of qualifications.
And make sure you check out the different categories to see the information you wil…