Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Speaker Profile: Transfer Pricing

In the latest speaker profile in our series, we sit down with Paul Balkus from Ernst & Young who is presenting the Transfer Pricing session at the upcoming 29th National Convention in Hobart.

Tell us about yourself

I have led Ernst & Young’s Oceania transfer pricing practice and have over 20 years of experience in the field of transfer pricing, servicing a broad range of clients. I have been involved in all aspects of transfer pricing including advance pricing arrangements, dispute resolution, planning and documentation.

I also have experience addressing transfer pricing issues in connection with various planning strategies involving IP migration, establishment of procurement centres, global IT system roll-outs, business restructurings and intercompany financing and service arrangements.

I have been instrumental in putting together and implementing a number of audit defence strategies which has spanned across a broad range of industries including: media and entertainment; telecommunications; apparel; energy and resources; pharmaceutical; financial services; and brown goods. I also have extensive experience in developing, negotiating and concluding both unilateral and bilateral Advance Pricing Agreements.

How long have you been affiliated with The Tax Institute?

I have a long standing relationship with The Tax Institute and have presented at the National Convention for the last 4 years.

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

The National Convention provides a forum to reflect on the current transfer pricing landscape and in particular its role within the corporate tax framework. It also provides an opportunity to provide corporate taxpayers practical advice on what continues to be a more complex and controversial area of taxation.

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

I will be presenting on the introduction of the new transfer pricing laws contained in Division 815, including the legal and compliance impact of the new law. I will also outline the ATO’s current approach to transfer pricing including their recent focus on marketing hubs and intangible assets.

What can attendees expect to learn from your session?

Attendees can expect to gain an understanding of the changes that Division 815 brings from a legal perspective and what this practically means for taxpayers. They will also gain an understanding of the ATO’s current approach to transfer pricing.

What new or hot topics will you cover?

I will cover the new legislation and the hot topics of marketing hubs and intangible assets.

How will attending your session help delegates help their clients?

Delegates will be able to provide clients with an understanding of the practical implications of the change in the transfer pricing law and an understanding of what the ATO is currently targeting.

Which other sessions at the conference are you most interested in attending?

The Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) debate is one that has particular impact and influence on transfer pricing. As such, I am particularly interested in attending the Commissioner of Taxation’s address to hopefully hear his views on this topic and also attending the sessions on debt funding, tax deductibility of interest and E-commerce, Cloud and Cross-Border transactions to hear current thoughts on these issues and their impact on BEPS.

What do you like to do when you’re not knee-deep in tax?

I love to swim, play tennis and run a few kilometres as well as early morning sessions playing the classics on my grand piano – I also spend time with the family and meeting the challenges of a teenage daughter. Otherwise, it’s all about transfer pricing.

29th National Convention 2014
You’re invited to join us in Hobart for the 29th National Convention 26-28 March 2014. The Tax Institute’s National Convention is widely recognised as the essential annual event for tax professionals. But hurry! Advanced pricing ends this Friday!

Find out more about the conference and register now.

Monday, 24 February 2014

On the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA)

With the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in Sydney on the weekend, the Australian Government had some positive news earlier last week on the international front, releasing details of the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

The FTA is expected to formally enter into force at the end of 2014 and importantly, it will make significant changes in key areas including legal, accounting and financial services.

Following the full implementation of the FTA, effectively all of Australia’s exports to Korea will be free from tariffs or other trade barriers. The new commercial opportunities for Australian businesses are potentially significant.

The FTA offers Australian service providers the opportunity to compete in the Korean market on an equal level with competitors from the US, EU and ASEAN countries.

These provisions also seek to promote mutual recognition of professional qualifications and improved residency and business visa access arrangements for Australians.

The Trade Minister’s press release and the full text of the FTA can be accessed.

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.

From Clerk to CTA – Jason Barnes member profile

“Back yourself and take the opportunities presented by tax reform with both hands.”

Jason Barnes, CTA
Name: Jason Barnes, CTA
Company: Greenwoods & Freehills Pty Ltd
State: Victoria
Member since: 2005

Areas of specialty

Primarily income tax (including tax audits and litigation), but I’ve also dabbled in goods and services tax, stamp duty and aspects of petroleum resource rent tax. My focus has historically been on financing, international and cross-border, commercial and capital management transactions for clients in the financial services and natural resource industries.

Why are you a member of The Tax Institute?

The opportunity to attend seminars and conferences at which the best tax practitioners in the country present, and to network with clients, colleagues and other practitioners. Much like undertaking postgraduate studies, being a member of The Tax Institute is becoming a prerequisite for tax professionals.

How is your membership beneficial to your practice and clients?

In addition to learning and networking opportunities (which benefit my clients through enhanced knowledge and, ultimately, better advice), membership of The Tax Institute has led to me being on the organising committee of the Younger Tax Practitioners series in Victoria, which has provided me with the chance to give back to the profession.

How did you end up in tax?

As an articled clerk at Mallesons Stephen Jaques (as it was then known), I rotated through the tax group and, among other things, was drawn to the analytical and problem-solving nature of tax law work. I then had to wait nine months before my articles year ended to join the tax group as a solicitor.

What are the challenges for tax practitioners this year?

As is the case most years, keeping up to date with the ever-changing tax landscape in the form of legislation, case law and tax administration. This is crucial for tax practitioners from the perspective of providing sound advice to existing clients and winning new clients, and working in an increasingly competitive market.

Most memorable career moment to date

Appearing before the High Court in a matter about share buy-backs. Although my client ultimately lost the case, being involved in a matter from the objection stage through to the High Court, working with some of the best tax litigators and barristers in Australia, and playing a small part in the making of new tax law was something that few tax practitioners will experience.

How do you relax?

Away from work, I relax by spending time with my family, often at a local park playing cricket or football with my oldest son and watching my youngest son sing and dance to his favourite artist (currently Pink, which is a step up from the Wiggles)! I also enjoy exercising (although training for Tough Mudder is rarely relaxing), spending time working in my garden, and child-free evenings out with my wife.

Advice to those entering the profession

Tax is a hard slog — the learning curve is steep and there are many issues for which there are no easy answers. But the rewards from a career in tax more than outweigh the challenges — there is a sense of achievement when you apply the law to your client’s factual scenario and come up with a commercial and practical solution. Back yourself and take the opportunities presented by tax reform with both hands. And always put yourself in your client’s shoes when providing advice — you will be a better practitioner if you do.

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, 19 February 2014

Speaker Profile: Australia’s Response to the OECD’s BEPS Policy

In the latest speaker profile in our series, we sit down with Michael O’Neill from the Australian Taxation Office who is presenting the Australia’s Response to the OECD’s BEPS Policy session at the upcoming 2014 Financial Services Taxation Conference on the Gold Coast.

Michael O’Neill
Michael O’Neill
Tell us about yourself

I have worked in a law firm, in a big four law firm and with several agencies including the Australian Federal Police, Australian Crime Commission and the Australian Taxation Office.

As a lawyer, I have acted as a prosecutor, investigator and project leader for multi-agency or multi-jurisdictional projects.

I have worked on international tax matters for almost 8 years, including in Project Wickenby. I am the lead of the International Practice in the ATO.

How long have you been affiliated with The Tax Institute?

I have been affiliated with the Tax Institute for approximately 5 years.

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

It is an opportunity to learn more about the thoughts of practitioners and in-house tax advisers in regards to the BEPS issue. It is an opportunity for the tax industry to discuss current issues within the financial services area and developments related to base erosion and profit shifting.

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

Australia’s response to the OECD’s BEPS policy.

What can attendees expect to learn from your session?

Information that will be covered includes:

  • Definition of base erosion and profit shifting 
  • Australian government’s involvement as chair of the G20. 
  • ATO’s involvement in the BEPS appointment at the G20.
  • Australian government support in relation to BEPS. 
  • Key ATO strategies including: international engagement, mitigation strategies, improved data, analysis, intelligence and risk assessment, rulings and advice, active compliance, law reform, improved governance and building capability
  • Transfer pricing developments. 
  • International developments. 
  • What BEPS changes may mean for you? 

What new or hot topics will you cover?

Transfer pricing developments and the proposed changes to thin capitalisation regime for the financial years starting on or after 1 July 2014.

How will attending your session help delegates help their clients?

It will assist delegates by developing their understanding of the changing landscape in regards to BEPS, which will aide them when providing advice to clients.

Which other sessions at the conference are you most interested in attending?

I am interested in attending Session 6A: FATCA – what is the state of play? and Session 6B: offshore banking units.

What do you like to do when you’re not knee-deep in tax?

In my free time I like to run, read and row (a small kayak presented on my last birthday).

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

Find out more about the conference and register now.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Child care and tax deductibility

We recently lodged our submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into future options for child care and early childhood learning.

Our submission is particularly focussed on the following part of the inquiry’s terms of reference:

Options for enhancing the choices available to Australian families as to how they receive child care support, so that this can occur in the manner most suitable to their individual family circumstances. Mechanisms to be considered include subsidies, rebates and tax deductions, to improve the accessibility, flexibility and affordability of child care for families facing diverse individual circumstances.

There are many women who would participate in the workforce except for the unavailability of child care. In many cases these individuals would earn higher wages than the wages of the child care workers. Therefore, a tax concession to subsidise the cost of child care should provide a positive benefit to the Australian economy by generating tax revenue in the form of income tax on wages.

Two options for improving access to child care through the tax system would be to allow a tax deduction for child care costs and to use a refundable tax credit or cash grant. Access our full submission.

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, 17 February 2014

Speaker Profile: Potential to bust-proof a trust?

In the latest speaker profile in our series, we sit down with Matthew Burgess CTA  from McCullough Robertson who is presenting the Potential to bust-proof a trust? session at the upcoming SME Structures and Restructures in Brisbane on Thursday 27 February 2014.

Tell us about yourself

My passion is helping clients successfully achieve their goals. This is generally achieved through collaborative planning and implementation with accountants, financial advisers, risk advisers and other lawyers. For almost 10 years, we have done this on a fixed price basis.

How long have you been affiliated with The Tax Institute?

Since 1997, in one way or another.

What does the SME Structures & Restructures event mean to you, and more broadly, to the tax industry?

This event has enjoyed a leading reputation for many years and with good reason. I am therefore very grateful for the opportunity to be involved as one of the presenters in 2014.

What is the topic that you are presenting at SME Structures & Restructures?

Potential to bust proof a trust.

What can attendees expect to learn from your session?

While the technical paper should provide an excellent framework for future reference, the focus of the presentation will be on practical cases and examples.

What new or hot topics will you cover?

A number of recent cases (both publicly known and from client situations) will be addressed.

How will attending your session help delegates help their clients?

The practical focus of the presentation, reinforced by the technical content should enable all attendees to provide significant value back into their client base.

Which other sessions at the seminar are you most interested in attending?

The entire program looks very strong.

What do you like to do when you’re not knee-deep in tax?

At the moment, a series of children's books (of which the four have now been published) provides a good balance. The website is at www.wordsfromdaddysmouth.com.au.

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.

Introducing 2014 President Michael Flynn part 2: The year just gone

The year just gone was unusual in that it saw a new Commissioner and a new government, both of whom have shaken up the status quo. The new Commissioner has completely revamped the profession’s consultation arrangements with the ATO, terminating many longstanding committees and introducing a new process for conducting consultation. The new model is in its infancy and I anticipate that we will be testing and refining the new consultation arrangements during the first half of this year.

Senator Sinodinos also started his term with a bang by dealing swiftly with the 100+ announced but unenacted legislative amendments left over from the previous government.  The abandonment of some of these measures was welcome, such as the proposed disallowance of tax deductions for self-education above $2,000. The Institute was prominent in opposing that measure. But some of the other measures that were abandoned were designed to cure legislative anomalies.

There is a danger that some taxpayers and their advisers who lodged tax returns on the assumption that the law would accord with measures previously announced will be caught out because those measures have been abandoned. The government has announced that it will protect those taxpayers through a further legislative amendment — yes, yet another announced but unenacted measure, this one designed to protect taxpayers disadvantaged by announced but unenacted measures!

The Institute will monitor these developments closely. Robert Jeremenko, Steve Westaway and I have already met with the Assistant Treasurer, who has indicated he is interested in hearing from us about any concerns the Institute may have in relation to the tax system.  Please let us know if any of your clients are adversely affected by the abandonment of previously announced legislative changes.

As if these developments were not enough, in the second half of this year the government will be issuing a white paper setting out proposals for reforming the tax system. The Institute will be encouraging the government to provide a timetable for drafting the white paper and will respond to the white paper when it is published.

On top of these headline issues, we will continue to work for members who are affected at a day-to-day level by other matters. For example, the ATO overhauled its website last year, which led to considerable frustration for those using the site. The Institute repeatedly brought these issues to the attention of the ATO. The ATO’s approach to trusts has also generated considerable uncertainty for members. We will be encouraging the ATO to adopt sensible practices in its administration of the taxation of trusts.

All of us are looking forward to a very active year!

Michael Flynn CTA 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.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Getting the most out of your membership: Paper of the Month

This series of articles – once a month for 2014 – are designed to help you get the most out of your membership. In addition to the well renowned Taxation in Australia journal, our members receive an extensive list of resources and benefits to help them in their careers.

Paper of the Month

Did you know that The Tax Institute holds over 350 CPD events each year?

Just think of how many sessions and presentations that equates to. Each presentation – and accompanying paper – covers a different topic and designed to bring its audience up-to-date with the latest tax law or update.

Well fortunately these excellent materials are not wasted. They are all upload to our extensive Tax Knowledge eXchange research service (well over 65,000 records and counting!) for subscribers and one technical paper is selected each month for free to members.

Have you read this month’s?

Stay up to date

The Paper of Month is advertised each month in our TaxVine Newsletter and on the home page of our website. To access your copy, simply log in to the website using your username and password, and download the PDF.

Used in conjunction with our journals and newsletters, the Paper of the Month is offered as another way for tax professionals – like yourself – to get coverage of the latest in tax policy. It’s an excellent resources to collect, collate and circulate with your team.

Need assistance? Call our membership team on +61 2 8223 0060.

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, 12 February 2014

Speaker Profile: Penalty Provisions

In the latest speaker profile in our series, we sit down with Paul Sokolowski from Arnold Bloch Leibler who is presenting the Penalty Provisions session at the upcoming 29th National Convention in Hobart.

Tell us about yourself

I am a Partner of Arnold Bloch Leibler and the practice leader of the firm’s taxation practice. I provide strategic and technical advice to a diverse range of Australian and international clients, with an emphasis on significant and complex audits, disputes and litigation.

How long have you been affiliated with The Tax Institute?

I have been affiliated with The Tax Institute for 15 years now.

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

The National Convention provides opportunity to learn about, and discuss, topical technical and administrative tax issues. Importantly, it provides the opportunity to catch up with old, and meet new, professional colleagues from around the country.

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

I will be presenting the administrative penalty regime session.

What can attendees expect to learn from your session?

Attendees of my session can learn about:

  • the different administrative penalties that can be imposed and how the ATO apply them
  • the different standards relating to “reasonable care” and reasonably arguable positions and the timing of advice
  • safe harbour – practical limitations, and
  • issues associated with requests for remission.

What new or hot topics will you cover?

I will be covering recent court and Tribunal decisions affecting our understanding of the imposition of penalties.

How will attending your session help delegates help their clients?

Understanding these provisions will assist practitioners in better informing their clients of the risks associated with certain behaviour and, importantly, may affect the way and manner in which any tax advice is provided to clients.

Which other sessions at the conference are you most interested in attending?

I am looking forward to the sessions on:

  • Division 7A – Choice of Entity and Restructuring for SME Clients
  • Trusts – State of Play
  • Restructuring – Avoiding Harm’s Way

What do you like to do when you’re not knee-deep in tax?

I enjoy spending time with my family, reading and watching movies (particularly from the 60's and 70's).

29th National Convention 2014
You’re invited to join us in Hobart for the 29th National Convention 26-28 March 2014. The Tax Institute’s National Convention is widely recognised as the essential annual event for tax professionals. But hurry! Advanced pricing ends this Friday!

Find out more about the conference and register now.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Welcome to the first Senior Tax Counsel report for 2014

I hope that all members had an opportunity to take some time to relax with friends and family over the ensuing period.

It is clear that tax reform will be on the national political and business agenda this year.

The Federal Government's commitment to produce a tax white paper to investigate options for an overhaul of our tax system ensures as much. But will the Government pick up the tax reform ball and run with it to the next election as they have hinted? Our tax system certainly needs such bold action and our economic and Budgetary position ensures that reticence is not an option.

Taxation is one of the most complex and delicate policy areas entrusted to lawmakers and administrators, with one misaligned lever in the boiler room prone to cause calamity on other decks.

So while tax professionals want reform, we also want it to occur in an ordered way that addresses known structural problems without creating unwanted or unforeseen new ones.

In 2014, let's hope our political leaders realise the imperative of soberly assessing the opportunities that genuine tax reform offers. The Tax Institute will be actively engaging with the Government on reform areas and we welcome contributions from members.

As always, please feel free to contact me or either of the Tax Counsel in the team: Stephanie Caredes CTA or our new team member, Thilini Wickramasuriya ATI.

We look forward to a successful and enjoyable year ahead.

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.

Introducing 2014 President Michael Flynn part 1: What lies ahead

In this month’s column, the Institute’s new president, Michael Flynn, looks ahead at some of the key objectives for 2014, as well as likely developments in tax following the determination of the future of a multitude of unenacted tax measures in late 2013.

I am excited to be writing my first president’s column and looking forward to the year ahead.

On behalf of all our members, I congratulate Steve Westaway for his hard work and leadership during 2013. Steve was totally committed to the Institute during his year as president, and I was particularly impressed with the time and energy he contributed to assisting the Tax Policy team in preparing submissions and consulting with the ATO and government. Steve steps down from National Council, where his experience and wisdom will be sorely missed, but has told me he is happy to be called upon if we need his help.

Your National Councillors for 2014 are:

  • Michael Flynn: President
  • Stephen Healey: Vice-President, Chair, National Technical Committee
  • Matthew Pawson: Treasurer
  • Arthur Athanasiou: Chair, National Membership and Services Committee
  • Tracey Rens: Chair, National Education Committee
  • Tim Neilson: Deputy Chair, National Technical Committee
  • Graeme Cooper: Member, Education Examination and Quality Assurance Board
  • Stephen Heath: Deputy Chair, National Education Committee
  • Wayne Healy: Member, Education Advisory Board
  • Peter Godber

Four key objectives for National Council this year will be:

  • ensuring that the Institute’s education program remains relevant to the tax profession.  Many tax professionals no longer rely on attending face-to-face seminars and conferences to update their knowledge. In order to remain relevant, the Institute needs to tailor both the content and method of delivery to meet the needs of the tax profession;
  • improving awareness of the CTA qualification;
  • continuing the growth of the Structured Education Program; and
  • ensuring that the Institute continues to offer our members opportunities to participate in the Institute’s activities. I particularly want to encourage members who are interested in participating in technical committees. We will be adopting a new structure for our technical committees in 2014 which is designed to facilitate member participation. 

Find out more next week in part 2 of my president’s column.

Michael Flynn CTA 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.

Monday, 3 February 2014

A message from The CEO: TaxVine Is Changing

Welcome to a new year

We’re excited to be back and are gearing up for another great year, bringing you some great education programs and events, like the 2014 Tax Adviser of the Year Awards, the winners of which will be announced next month at the 29th National Convention in Hobart.

Summer sale – ends 14 February

Our summer sale ends soon. If you’ve been meaning to pick up any of our sale items, make sure you do so before Friday, 14 February.

Notice to members – TaxVine is changing

TaxVine delivers the latest tax news via email to every member each Friday. This year, you’ll notice TaxVine has a new look and a clearer layout.

If you’re viewing TaxVine on your mobile or tablet device, you’ll find an optimised experience for easier reading and navigation. To gauge member feedback, we’ll be testing the new layout with half of our membership mailing list for two months, so if you don’t receive the new version don’t worry, it’ll be coming to you when we roll out the final version incorporating any feedback in March.

Study period 1 is open for enrolment

Are you wondering what 2014 has in store for your firm?

If you want to remain competitive in the market, ongoing education will ensure that you achieve your goals and that your employees have the skills and knowledge required to grow your client-base.

With that in mind, all of our programs are open for enrolment, including The Chartered Tax Adviser Program, the Course in Australian Taxation Law, and the Course in Commercial Law. These courses are designed for candidates at various stages of their profession to further enhance their performance, and are designed by Australia’s leading educator in tax — The Tax Institute.

If you or your colleagues would like to enrol, visit our website. The first courses start in February.

Final chance to save 20% off webinars

Don’t miss your final chance to save 20% off when you register for the full series of 2014 Monthly Update Webinars.

Free membership trial for your colleagues

Do you have friends or colleagues that would benefit from membership of The Tax Institute?

Let them know about our free membership trial running during March. Following the popular October trial, all registrants (your colleagues!) will get to experience a selection of the benefits and resources that members get daily access to.

Financial services on the Gold Coast

Places are still available at this month’s Financial Services Taxation Conference on the Gold Coast. Taking place from 19 to 21 February, this annual conference is the flagship event of the financial services taxation calendar, and attracts practitioners and in-house tax advisers from across Australia to discuss current issues within the financial services area. Don’t miss out!

National Convention 26 to 28 March

The 29th National Convention is coming up just as quickly. Join us in Hobart in March and you’ll 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.

This year, we are also hosting the inaugural Tax Adviser of the Year Awards during the Gala Dinner on 27 March, so don’t miss out on this momentous occasion.

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.