Meet a member: Julian Feiner, Allens
Areas of specialty
Corporate and international taxation, with a particular focus on audits and disputes involving transfer pricing and anti-avoidance issues, as well as transactions involving mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructuring, withholding tax and GST issues.
Why are you a member of The Tax Institute?
It is the best way to engage with the professional tax community in Australia, learn from other tax practitioners, and gain experience by presenting at conventions and seminars. I recently joined The Tax Institute’s Victorian Education Committee and look forward to contributing to the program of Victorian events in the future.
How is your membership beneficial to your practice and clients?
A particular benefit of the membership is that it provides access to The Tax Institute’s extensive online resources, which draw together conference papers and opinions from leading tax practitioners across a broad range of topical issues. Reading these materials makes the task of keeping up-to-date a lot easier.
How did you end up in tax?
I started at Allens as an articled clerk in the mergers and acquisitions group and worked closely with our tax team on a major transaction. It was a natural progression for me to move into the tax group, continue working on that matter, and gain exposure to audit and litigation work. I studied tax at university and knew the basics, but it was a steep learning curve for the first couple of years! Much of the work we do involves finding simple, practical solutions to seemingly intractable problems. It is never easy, but I am lucky to work with talented, collaborative and good-humoured colleagues and clients who make the work a lot more fun than it might seem.
What are the challenges for tax practitioners this year?
Obtaining certainty is the perennial challenge for taxpayers because the tax laws are constantly evolving as political and economic circumstances change. This year in particular, we are advising on the new transfer pricing and Pt IVA anti-avoidance rules, and seeing many risk reviews and audits in these areas. The good news for taxpayers is that opportunities to resolve audits and obtain certainty during the audit process appear to be increasing, through the ATO’s independent review process and alternative dispute resolution procedures.
Most memorable career moment to date
My first time instructing counsel at the Federal Court was a memorable and exciting time because, for our team, it was the culmination of many months of preparation and anticipation and, for me personally, it was the vindication of about 18 years of schooling and tertiary education. My next experience in Federal Court proceedings was less eventful, but more satisfying, because we managed to settle the matter before the trial in our client’s favour based on the strength of our evidence.
How do you relax?
We spend a lot of time indoors during the week so I like to get out on the weekends as much as possible, exploring Melbourne’s suburbs, going to galleries and events, and playing sport. I play hockey in the state league and it’s a great way to keep fit and stay in touch with old school friends. After hockey, it’s time to put the feet up and have a rest, usually with some war stories to tell and a couple of ice packs handy.
Advice to those entering the profession
Working in tax is challenging and stimulating because it brings you into contact with all aspects of your client’s business and all areas of law and practice. Tax is seen as a specialist area but in fact you need to be an all-rounder. A good tax lawyer can adapt to all environments, whether it be general corporate, litigation, banking and finance, intellectual property or constitutional law. Gaining broad experience, persevering and finding supportive mentors is essential.
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.