Thursday, 31 October 2013

Consultation – never simple

Consultation — “a regulatory process by which the public’s input on matters affecting them is sought. Its main goals are in improving the efficiency, transparency and public involvement in large-scale projects or laws and policies” (Wikipedia — source of all truth). Easy said, never simple.

Last month saw the ATO’s revised consultation framework presented to the National Tax Liaison Group for comment. Broadly, the aim of the revised framework is to reduce the number of consultative forums being conducted by the ATO, but at the same time improve the quality and efficiency of the consultations. The structure of ATO consultation now involves establishing eight stewardship committees:

  • the National Tax Liaison Group 
  • the Large Business Liaison Group 
  • the Small/Medium Business Liaison Group 
  • the Individual Taxpayer Liaison Group 
  • the ATO Tax Practitioner Advisory Group 
  • the Not for Profit Advisory Group 
  • the GST Advisory Group 
  • the Superannuation (Industry) Advisory Group

and a “hub” for all other matters for consultation.

The stewardship committees are principally to cover high-level significant matters where the outcomes are considered to be in the national interest. This includes consideration of the strategic direction of the tax system, including opportunities for improvement to its administration.

The “hub” is designed to capture matters raised by the community. These matters need to be in the national interest or likely to improve the health or effective operation of the system.

The hub will assess the issue raised and then either refer the issue to one of the stewardship forums or a working group or committee formed from various stakeholders to consider the issue. The aim here is to source appropriately skilled persons who understand the issue to form a working group, and obtain their input and recommendations for addressing the issue. If a matter relates to tax policy, then the matter will be referred to Treasury.

So, you now know how it works. Well, not yet, there is still some work to be done. The ATO is setting up the hub and website so that issues raised for consultation can be tracked (due October). The website should contain information on what the issue is, who has custody of the issue, the group working on the issue, updates and time frame for completion. Membership of stewardship forums is still being considered, along with their terms of reference.

Next comes the role of professional bodies in the consultation framework. It is clear that the professional bodies will not have a seat at all forums. This may be appropriate in some cases, but until the terms of references for the stewardship forums are available and the process for dissemination of information from these consultative forums is put in place, the outcome is uncertain.

Your Tax Institute has been heavily involved in the revision process and has met with ATO staff responsible for establishing the new framework a number of times to discuss and provide input into the revised model. The Tax Institute is supportive of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the consultation process. We initiated the formation of a Consultation Advisory Group, involving representatives from the professional bodies and the ATO to oversee the consultation process. We have also ensured that there will be a post-implementation review of the new consultation process that will occur in March 2014. We are working with the ATO team responsible for consultation to ensure that existing issues for consultation are transitioned into the hub and are not lost.

Stephen
Westaway
Stephen Westaway 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.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Examining the TPB’s Strategic Plan

Earlier last week, The Tax Institute met with the Tax Practitioners Board at their Consultative Forum. Members will have seen that last week the Board released their Strategic Plan 2013-15. The Board emphasised that the main objective of their existence is for consumer protection by ensuring tax agent services that are provided to the public meet relevant professional and ethical standards.

In this regard, the Board plays an important role in issuing guidance to registered tax agents and the public about the standards that tax agents are required to meet. This is demonstrated by the suite of guidance products that are available on the Board’s website, and which is growing, as the Board continues to issue products on aspects of the Code of Professional Conduct (among other things), such as on the requirement to take reasonable care and to manage conflicts appropriately.

Currently, of great focus, is the extension of the Tax Agent Services Regime to apply to financial advisers who provide tax advice in the course of providing financial advice from 1 July 2014. The Board is busily working away to prepare guidance to financial advisers who may become subject to the Tax Agent Services regime about what may be required of them, including education and experience requirements, how the Code of Professional Conduct will apply and other elements pertinent to registering with the Board.

The Tax Institute has long held the view that financial advisers who provide tax advice in the course of providing financial advice should be subject to the Tax Agent Services Regime on the basis that it provides a mechanism for the protection of consumers of tax advice. This is consistent with the Board’s objective and role in administering the Tax Agent Services regime. The Tax Institute is continuing to consult with both Treasury and the Board on this matter.

A detailed summary of the meeting will be published for members’ information in a subsequent issue of TaxVine.

Robert Jeremenko
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.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Ten estate planning strategies – free from Estate & Business Succession Planning

View these ten strategies, taken from Estate & Business Succession Planning, 6th Edition, covering:

  • the nuclear family 
  • the wealthy nuclear family
  • problem children
  • the blended family 
  • the blended family and life interest
  • elderly and single
  • same-sex couples
  • dealing with the family trust
  • dealing with public offer superannuation interest
  • dealing with a self-managed superannuation fund.

View these ten strategies online, and purchase your copy of Estate & Business Succession Planning, 6th Edition from our website today.

Estate & Business Succession Planning, 6th Edition
Bernie O’Sullivan, CTA, is Principal of Bernie O’Sullivan Lawyers, an independent law firm that specialises in wealth succession. He advises individuals and their advisers in regard to estate planning, superannuation, family trusts and business succession, and acts in disputes relating to these arrangements. Bernie is the author of Estate & Business Succession Planning, now in its sixth edition, and a regular presenter at The Tax Institute’s seminars and conventions.

Friday, 25 October 2013

October CPD updates and 2014 dates for your diary

Careers in Tax Week

Last month we held our very first online Careers in Tax Week, where over 600 people attended webinars to help them understand the important roles of working in tax. Keep an eye out for similar careers events — and as always, we appreciate your feedback.

2013 Annual Business and Professional Study

As in previous years, The Tax Institute will again participate in the annual business and professional study conducted by Beaton Consulting. This survey will assist us in identifying areas where there may be scope to improve member services and add further value to membership.

You will receive the survey via email in November. We appreciate your feedback as this helps us to ensure that we continue to do things right.

2014 education key dates out now

The key dates and calendars for all of our certificate courses for 2014 are out now. Check out the website for early bird, start and closing dates 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.

FREE membership paper of the month

Don’t forget that, as part of your membership of The Tax Institute, each month you can download a technical paper for free from the Institute’s website. Visit our website to download October’s paper.

October CPD

With the end of the year coming up quickly, it’s time to get your CPD on track before heading off on the Christmas break. We have several key events running over the next two months — register early so you don’t miss out. Your next chance to get up to date with CPD will be 2014!

Don’t miss:


Tax Knowledge eXchange

Don’t forget, a subscription to our leading online knowledge base brings you the latest papers and presentations from our events, along with articles from our journals and much more. Covering virtually every area of tax, your subscription also includes up to 17 CPD hours. Find out more and take a free trial on our website.

2013 CPD on DVD boxset

Following the great reception for last year’s offer, we’re pleased to announce that our new 2013 boxset is now available. Featuring nine of this year’s most popular CPD on DVD titles, it covers a range of topics from trusts and superannuation to residency and CGT. Offering a convenient way to take care of your CPD requirements, it includes 18 CPD hours at a saving of over $500 on the individual price of these DVDs.

Noel Rowland
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.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Voices from history: Sabina Donnolley

Sabina Donnolley, CTA, of Donnolley Rush.
Sabina Donnolley, CTA, of Donnolley Rush.

How long have you been a member of the Institute?

I became a member of The Tax Institute in 1993.

What are some of the highlights of your time as a member?

The first national conference I attended in Queensland in 1993. I was absolutely amazed at the quality of the presentations, how friendly everyone was and, as a small practitioner, the access I had to information and help if I needed it. Then being appointed by the Institute as a tax practitioner member on the practitioner’s forum — during that three-year appointment I learned a lot and was happy to be able to say that I could make a change or I could voice when something was wrong on behalf of small practitioners.

How has the Institute helped shaped the profession during your membership?

I think the Institute has done an enormous amount to shape the profession and to shape members because it’s a lobby group. Often you believe you have a right to say that something is wrong with tax legislation, or it’s a great idea but it doesn't work at a practical level, and to be able to be a practitioner and say I have a voice, I have someone listening to me and I have someone that’s prepared to lobby on my behalf is a vital part of the whole legislation and how it should operate.

Do you have a message for the Institute and its members for the 70th anniversary?

Continue to maintain the high level that it does and to keep the job at that level and not lower its standards or compromise.

70 years supporting the tax profession
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.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

29th National Convention speakers and program just announced

Download the newly released technical program and register early to join us in Hobart – named as one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 destinations for 2013.

Whether you’re just starting out in tax or you’ve been to as many National Conventions as we have (29 and counting!), we hope you’re planning to join us in Hobart in 2014.

At the convention, you’ll hear from leading tax luminaries like:

  • The Hon. Justice Stephen Gageler presenting the Justice Graham Hill Memorial Lecture
  • Chris Jordan, AO, Commissioner of Taxation
  • Simon Steward, SC, speaking on the Tax Deductibility of Interest
  • Professor Gino Dal Pont from the University of Tasmania speaking on Ethics in Practice for Tax Advisers. 

Earn 15 structured CPD hours, grow your business and professional profile by networking with colleagues from around Australia and get answers that will help you help your clients.

Experience a technically relevant and practical program developed for tax professionals like you by some of the best and brightest minds in the industry. With three streams covering SME, Corporate and Hot Topics, The Tax Institute’s National Convention is widely recognised as the essential annual event for tax professionals – register early to avoid disappointment.

29th National Convention
National Convention boasts an enviable record of consistently delivering excellence.

The breadth and depth of the 2014 program ensures your convention is timely, relevant and practical. Developed by an expert team of tax professionals, we will again deliver the gold standard in professional development in 2014.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Australia not immune to debt crisis

Last week the United States teetered on the brink of defaulting on its debt, with the government in its second week of shutdown. The possible global ramifications cannot be overlooked. This includes the potential impact on Australia. Pleasingly it seems a deal has now been reached in the US.

We saw through the global financial crisis that we are not immune from world events in this increasingly interconnected global economy. However, it is clear that Australia’s economic position is in stark contrast to the US.

With this is mind, it is encouraging to hear the Australian government speaking of ‘a new era of reform’ in this electoral term. This week the Treasurer has recommitted to a tax reform program after wide consultation with key stakeholders. A green paper will precede a white paper on tax reform options, then, with the core principles of fairness and simplicity in mind, the government will seek endorsement from the electorate for their plan at the 2016 election.

We have long called for Australian policymakers to not waste the opportunities for tax reform presented by our relatively healthy economy. Australia has the opportunity to debate serious and long-term tax reform options. We can still create a sustainable tax system that supports growth while meeting current and future spending needs.

The tax white paper process holds much promise as the government gets down to business.

Robert Jeremenko
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.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Technical Committee review

The Tax Institute is progressing a review of our own Technical Committee structures and ways to link, support and involve our membership in this new consultation environment. A draft framework is being developed for consideration and input from the state councils, committees and members involved.

Consultation with the ATO is important and The Tax Institute’s role in this was acknowledged by the Commissioner in our regular catch-up, but the Institute’s consultation role extends much further to consulting with Treasury, other arms of government, international bodies and business.

Our new parliament is being formed and new faces in new roles require reconnections and then links to what will be the priorities of government. It has not gone unnoticed that we still have a backlog of tax measures to be addressed, not to mention areas requiring reform, such as trusts and Div 7A. As the new government comes to terms with its agenda and outstanding matters, we will cement our role with the new government to ensure that we continue to be regarded as the leading professional body in tax. Your involvement and input into consultation greatly assists to support the policy function of The Tax Institute — particularly given the finite resources in-house. Our Tax Policy and Advocacy team values your input and encourages new and continued participation from members.

Again, thank you to all those who have assisted in the ATO consultation review process and also for your patience in waiting for clarity on the “new” framework.

Till next time.

Stephen
Westaway
Stephen Westaway 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.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

How do tax issues impact the financial services industry?

Join us on the Gold Coast next February at the Financial Services Taxation Conference to find out, and earn 16.75 structured CPD hours.

Wide-ranging topics

With a jam-packed 2014 program just released, the conference is your opportunity to hear expert speakers explore wide-ranging issues affecting you and your clients, such as:

  • Transfer pricing rules
  • Part IVA
  • Trusts 
  • Policy and reform
  • 974
  • Division 6C and MIT
  • PPSA
  • ...and more

Pre-conference sessions

The optional pre-conference sessions will look at the impact of base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS), and how it will affect the domestic legislation of Australia and our trading partners.

Earlybird registration options

Organise your 2014 CPD now and you’ll receive a significant earlybird discount. Register before Friday 13 December to save.

2014 Financial Services Taxation Conference

The annual Financial Services Taxation Conference is the flagship conferencefor practitioners and in-house tax advisers from across Australia to discuss current issues within the financial services area.

Find out more

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Voices from History - Nick Heggart, CTA

Nick Heggart, CTA
Nick Heggart, CTA, of Greenwoods & Freehills.

How long have you been a member of the Institute?

14 years.

What are some of the highlights of your time as a member?

I still remember the first few seminars I attended and how inspiring it was to be exposed to the knowledge of those presenting. As a young tax professional, I got a lot out of those seminars. The annual state convention in the Margaret River wine region is also a highlight. Seeing 100+ tax nerds hit the dance floor at the gala dinner is particularly entertaining.

How has the Institute helped shaped the profession during your membership?

Personally, I have focused on the educational offering of The Tax Institute and so, obviously, this is what I reflect on. I think The Tax Institute has a unique offering in terms of the quality and depth of its seminars and conventions. This provides an opportunity for aspiring professionals to make their mark and for the broader tax community to benefit from their knowledge and enthusiasm for the profession.

Do you have a message for the Institute and its members for the 70th anniversary?

To The Tax Institute: keep up the good work! To members: keep putting into the Institute as we all share the benefits of that collective commitment.

70 years supporting the tax profession
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.

Monday, 14 October 2013

The shifting sands of tax

The mammoth list of unlegislated tax measures has long been a cause of real concern for tax professionals and again it seems to be getting some traction in the media.

The Tax Institute has been the leading advocate for action to address the growing length of this 'unenacted' tax law list - a list that the Department of Treasury admits now exceeds 120 revenue measures.

The stockpile of outstanding tax changes is fuelling uncertainty in the business community and hampering investment.

Business confidence has been eroded by a tax system that is constantly being built and rebuilt on shifting sands. Uncertainty creates confusion amongst taxpayers as to the appropriate manner in which to treat a range of planned transactions. This uncertainty requires affected taxpayers to in some cases simply guess what the likely tax law will be. This outcome heightens the tax risk profile of the taxpayer, which in turn causes unnecessary compliance and resourcing costs.

Tax professionals welcome Treasurer Hockey’s public commitment to providing greater clarity in relation to the unlegislated tax law list. New Assistant Treasurer, Senator Arthur Sinodinos AO, will no doubt be closely involved in this work. The Senator’s long-standing interest in policy development provides him a strong platform from which to tackle this major legislative backlog.

Successfully doing so must be a top priority of the new Government.

Robert Jeremenko
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.

Friday, 11 October 2013

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

Hopefully by now you have heard about The Tax Institute’s 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 employer of yours, this is your chance to be recognised by the industry’s leading tax luminaries as nominations opened on 1 October 2013.

Nominations close 10 December 2013

Nominate yourself, a colleague or industry peer in one of three award categories:


The awards will be judged by senior tax practitioners according to a set of criteria for each category and will be presented at an official awards ceremony in Hobart next year.

For further information about the awards, please contact our Tax Adviser of the Year Awards Division on +61 2 8223 0014 or email.

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.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Voices from history - Andrew Mills

Andrew Mills, CTA
Andrew Mills, CTA of Greenwoods & Freehills and Tax Institute Institute President from 2006-07.

What were some of the highlights of your time as president of The Tax Institute?

Probably two things come to mind. One was a real desire to make sure that the CPD program was touching as many members as possible. There were particular parts that we thought weren't reaching all of the membership base, so a concerted effort made sure we had streaming of sessions, focusing on special topics such as corporates and SMEs, and so on, so that members can pick and choose what they need to get the most out of the programs.

Also, the beginning of what is now the CTA program. Back then, it was under a different banner but it was really trying to get the formal structured education program up and running. It started with my predecessor, and I guess with all projects, you’re just part of a continuum because the strategy is set jointly with all of the national board members working together so that it runs over a number of years.

By getting out and trying to engage more of the membership, we certainly made an effort to try and get more people involved and attending education events, be they the structured kind or CPD.

How has the Institute helped shaped the profession during your membership?

It’s hard to know which tax policies in particular, there seemed to be so many different things going on during that time, it’s hard to pick out any particular one. The most momentous one that was going on during that time was the Tax Agent Services Act 2009. That had started 10 years earlier, but it was picking up a lot of speed during my term.

Do you have a message for the Institute and its members for the 70th anniversary?

The longer I’ve been involved with The Tax Institute, the more I’ve noticed it going from strength to strength. It is an organisation that’s really driven by members for members and that’s why it’s been so successful. So the message is: continue to be involved and enjoy the benefits of your colleagues.

70 years supporting the tax profession
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.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

SMSFs and the property price bubble

Last week we saw media interest once again turning to the superannuation sector. This followed comments made by the Reserve Bank of Australia that were interpreted as suggesting that SMSFs were contributing to a property price bubble. The Assistant Treasurer, Senator the Hon Arthur Sinodinos AO, was moved to publicly reassure the sector that the Government is not looking at any sudden changes to the laws affecting SMSFs.

In this context it is worth recalling the recent survey of Tax Institute members' key policy priorities. The number one member priority was an equitable and sustainable superannuation system for the long-term.

Superannuation is our nest egg. It's the stashed away cash that we all trust will be safe and secure for years to come and will be there when we need it to fund our retirement. It is the ultimate long-term investment. However, it is an investment made on the basis of a core compact between every Australian and Government: we agree to forgo part of our income now to save for our retirement, whilst in return the Government agrees to respect the sacrifice and the long-term nature of our investment.

It is clear that if the superannuation tax system is to be changed, members want a long term, sustainable plan for reform, not mere tinkering around the edges. When Governments tinker with the system this risks harming people's confidence in it and in putting their hard-earned money aside to save for their retirement.

The Coalition Government made an election pledge: “not to make any unexpected detrimental changes to superannuation”; we will be holding them to this commitment.

Robert Jeremenko
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.