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 of reform and modernisation began. Sales tax was abolished and the controversial GST was introduced. According to the ATO, in a regular year parliament might consider 20 or 30 amendments to taxation law, but in 1998-99 there were more than 60.
The Tax Specialist journal began publication in 1992, and the first National Tax Retreat was held in 1993. The popular TaxLine Research Service was launched in 1995, designed to assist members with difficult research.
The affects of the introduction of the new tax system continued into the early days of the new century. The Olympic Games were held in Sydney in 2000 and Australia entered a significant period of prosperity, with unemployment and inflation at record lows.
Project Wickenby was another noteworthy development during the decade, designed to address fraud and non-compliance. The Tax Institute was more relevant than ever, continuing to provide essential professional development to all tax professionals to keep them up to date on the complex and frequently changing legislation.
The Institute’s stable of offerings increased to meet the needs of the growing tax profession. In 2001 the online knowledge resource, Tax Knowledge eXchange, was launched, and in 2004 the Institute published its first book, the Trust Structures Guide, now is it’s 10th edition. 2005 and 2006 saw the launch of the Structured Education Program, now known as The Chartered Tax Adviser Program.
In May 2010, the Institute became a recognised Tax Agent Association, the result of a seventeen year process which saw the introduction of the Tax Agent Services Regime and the establishment of the Tax Practitioners Board. Tax agents had previously been regulated by state-based Tax Agents’ Boards since the 40s and in 2010 the government finally introduced the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 to establish the TPB. This was hugely significant for the Institute and the affects of which continue to be seen today.
In 2011, the Institute undertook a rebrand and launched a new website and an iPad version of Taxation in Australia. The following year the Chartered Tax Adviser designation was introduced to Australia and the Institute adopted the tagline The mark of expertise.
The launch of the CTA designation reflects the dawn of a new era for the Institute. As more and more tax professionals achieve CTA status in Australia, the tax profession and the Australian tax paying public will come to recognise their Chartered Tax Adviser as a global leader with the qualifications, experience and integrity to manage their tax affairs.
With 70 years of supporting the profession behind us, the Institute acknowledges that none of it would have been possible without the help of our members and our volunteers. Together, we can continue to work towards strengthening the profession in Australia and advocating for reform to ensure a tax system that benefits all.
In 2013, The Tax Institute is celebrating 70 years of supporting the tax profession.
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.