Friday, 27 March 2015

Tax Reform White Paper to be released on Monday

In the summer of 1979, The Boomtown Rats famously sang “I don’t like Mondays”.
Monday is not usually our favourite day of the week either, but next Monday will be no ordinary day. It could be the genesis of significant changes in our tax system. We welcome the announcement of Monday, 30 March as the date for the release of the Federal Tax Reform White Paper discussion paper.

The Federal Treasurer, Joe Hockey, announced the release date at The Tax Institute’s 30th National Convention on the Gold Coast last week. The Tax Institute is primed and ready to be a sound voice in this pivotal debate on reforming Australia’s tax system.

The time for tinkering around the edges of our tax system has now passed. We hope that the discussion paper provides a basis for a holistic debate. It is time to step back and ask the difficult questions: Is our tax system simple, equitable and efficient? How do we balance these goals? What changes are necessary to strike the right balance?

One thing is clear, we need your assistance and insight in this process. Once you have had a chance to read the discussion paper, please share your ideas with us at Tax Policy.

Tax Disputes

Yesterday, Mr Bert van Manen, Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Tax and Revenue, tabled the Committee’s must-anticipated report on tax disputes.

The Tax Institute submission and evidence in relation to this inquiry is referred to extensively throughout the report. Consistent with our submission, the Committee’s recommendations included the appointment of a separate second commissioner to deal with tax disputes, considering further direct and early engagement for disputes with all taxpayers, and considering more flexible timeframes to respond to ATO information requests.

We now await the Government’s response to the recommendations of the Committee.

The Committee’s report and our submission in relation this inquiry can be found here.


Thilini Wickramasuriya FTI is a 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.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Secure the future of your business with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law

We have received a great response regarding the first intake for our Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law program, which builds on our highly regarded CTA1 Foundations, CTA2A Advanced and CTA2B Advanced subjects. You and your staff can enrol now in these practical and relevant courses for study period 2.

Don’t forget, you can continue to strengthen your employees’ tax skills through practical and applied education through our existing Course in Australian Taxation Law, Course in Commercial Law, or Chartered Tax Adviser programs.

The Institute’s education programs ensure that professionals are able to immediately apply their learning in the workplace.

Visit taxinstitute.com.au/GradDip or call us on 02 8223 0038 for more information.

Discover our growing range of apps

Hopefully by now you’ve downloaded The Tax Institute app and are enjoying this issue of Taxation in Australia on your iPad or Android tablet. In February, we launched The Tax Institute CPD app, helping you to get the most from hundreds of events that we run each year, and we’ve just launched The Tax Specialist app, bringing you each issue of the leading journal for corporate tax professionals on your tablet. Visit our website to find out more.

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.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

March's presentations from our leading events (Free for members).

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

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). Non-members can purchase the presentations for only $15 each.

Many of these presentations have an accompanying technical paper available to purchase. Alternatively, subscribe to the Tax Knowledge eXchange for unlimited access to papers, journal articles, daily tax news and more.

Members, don't forget you also receive a free technical paper each month as one of your membership benefits. During March you can download 'ATO reinvention & managing disputes post independent review', from Deborah Hastings.


Don’t forget, a Tax Knowledge eXchange subscription gives you unlimited access to these presentations, papers, articles from our journals, and much more.
 

Tax Knowledge eXchange

The Tax Institute runs over 300 CPD seminars a year, and all papers and presentations provided by the speakers from our seminars are available through the website individually or through a Tax Knowledge eXchange subscription.

Friday, 20 March 2015

30th National Convention

At The Tax Institute’s 30th National Convention this week, Commissioner of Taxation, Chris Jordan AO, unveiled the “Reinventing the ATO” blueprint. The blueprint contains the ATO’s program of change and describes the kind of experience that taxpayers and tax professionals can look forward to having when they deal with the ATO. There is emphasis on ease-of-use, efficiency and removing unnecessary and burdensome reporting and regulations.

We welcome the release of the ATO’s official plan to improve its operations and processes.  The introduction of new initiatives, such as issuing ‘OK Letters’ to eligible taxpayers for their 2015 income tax returns to confirm they will not be subject to any future compliance activity, is a welcome move. The initiatives contained in the blueprint show the ATO is taking a proactive approach to alleviating the compliance burden on taxpayers, though there is still a long way to go.

A link to our media release is here.

Members who are interested in finding out more about the ATO’s blueprint can find more information here.

Other news

In other news, the House of Representatives Tax & Revenue Committee met on Wednesday 18 March in relation to its inquiry into the “Annual Report of the Australian Taxation Office 2014”. The Tax Institute made a written submission to the Committee in relation to this inquiry. Our submission is here.

We also lodged our submission with the ATO in relation to their initiative on “Single Touch Payroll”. Though supportive of the initiative as it may be beneficial for many businesses, we have some concern that the initiative may not necessarily reduce red tape for small businesses. A link to our submission is here.


Stephanie Caredes CTA is a 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.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Highlights from day 1 of the National Convention

The day kicked off with a golf tournament, which was virtually washed out as torrential rain hit the Gold Coast. Many of the groups only lasted 6 holes but one committed group battled through the horrible conditions and finished the round, which was quite impressive! Rose Thompsett won the tournament with 36 points.
Autopia, one of the events sponsors has brought along two Audi’s, including an Audi R8, worth an impressive $450,000! Unfortunately the winner of the passport draw doesn’t get to take the car home.

Highlights from some of the afternoon sessions:

Jeremy Hirschhorn, Chief Tax Counsel, Australian Taxation Office and Greg Travers, Director, William Buck discussed a practical, advisory approach to the new Part IVA.

Jeremy explained his ‘snip test’ approach to Part IVA. “If you can snip off part the transaction and the commercial outcome doesn’t change much but the tax outcome is vastly different, you may be in trouble.” Another take out was "Imagine sitting in a witness box. Could you put your hand on your heart and explain why you undertook this transaction?
In the afternoon Bernard Salt delivered an entertaining update on the generational and demographic shifts that are occurring and the opportunities they present for the tax profession.


The Tax Institute's 30th National Convention is being held on the Gold Coast. With an expert team of leading tax professionals shaping the content and a growing list of delegates who are amongst the best and brightest in the tax profession, the National Convention is undoubtedly the premier taxation conference in Australia.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Announcing the judges and finalists of the Tax Adviser of the Year Awards

For more than 70 years, we have been committed to honouring and showcasing the tax profession’s leading experts and rising stars. Later this month, we are proud to award the recipients of our Tax Adviser of the Year Awards at the 30th National Convention on the Gold Coast.
Representing the best and brightest in tax, from rising stars to industry leaders, the recipients have been chosen from a pool of well-deserved tax professionals by our
judging panel.

The judges

The judges for the 2015 Tax Adviser of the Year Awards are:
  • Arlene Macdonald, CTA (Life);
  • the Hon. Ian V Gzell, QC, FTI (Life);
  • Ian Langford-Brown, FTI (Life);
  • Michael Evans, CTA;
  • Peter McKnoulty, CTA; and
  • Syd Jenkins, CTA.
You can find the full profiles of each of the judges on our website at taxinstitute.com.au. We’re sure you’ll agree that these industry luminaries are well-equipped to select the cream of the crop.

The finalists

We are proud to announce that the judges have selected the finalists for the awards. These individuals display excellence in the areas of tax advice, tax planning, leadership, professionalism, ethics, innovation, and commitment to the tax profession.
 
The Emerging Tax Star finalists are:
  • Andrew (Andy) Bubb, KPMG;
  • Sarah Goodman, ATI, KPMG; and
  • Po-Kai (Jack) Wang, FTI, Pitcher Partners.
 
The SME Tax Adviser finalists are:
  • Dinesh Aggarwal, FTI, Fortuna Accountants & Business Advisors
  • Peter Bobbin, CTA, Rockwell Oliver; and
  • Stephen Holmes, CTA, WMS Chartered Accountants.

The Corporate Tax Adviser finalists are:
  • Minh Dao, CTA, KPMG;
  • Matt Ervin, KPMG; and
  • Scott Treatt, CTA, Pitcher Partners.

The Chartered Tax Adviser finalists are:
  • Judith Choate, CTA, Piper Alderman Lawyers;
  • Paul Dowd, CTA, Morse Group; and
  • Andrew Mills, CTA, ATO.

The winners of each category will be announced on the Gold Coast on 19 March. Join us to support your colleagues and to find out who will be the winner in each category. Details of the awards dinner can be found at taxinstitute.com.au under the National Convention pages.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the judges and all who entered the awards, and to congratulate the finalists.

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.
  

Friday, 13 March 2015

The Federal Budget submission

This week The Tax Institute lodged a submission to Treasury outlining our priorities for the Federal Budget for 2015-16. The Federal Budget submission is one of the key submissions we lodge each year and sets out the Tax Institute's tax policy agenda in broad terms.

This year the landscape has changed and there are separate Tax and Federation White Paper processes on the horizon. Accordingly, this Budget Submission focussed only on those matters that The Tax Institute believes should be considered in the context of the 2015?16 Budget, rather than in longer-term tax reform proposals, which will be the subject of separate submissions.

Our 2015-16 Federal Budget discussed the following priorities:

Company tax reform

The Tax Institute reiterated the case for reducing the company tax rate in the medium term from its current 30% to the 25% recommended by the Henry Review. The Tax Institute encouraged the Government to pursue cutting the company tax rate for all companies, not just small business companies.

Multinational taxation

The Tax Institute supported the Government's commitment to addressing base erosion and profit shifting in conjunction with Australia's G20 partners. We supported Australia's involvement in this work and in particular, the work in the area of the digital economy to address the gaps that exist that allow for double non-taxation, that is, income wherever sourced not being appropriately taxed in any jurisdiction. Australia should be involved in the OECD process rather than attempting to address these issues alone.

Tax transparency

The Tax Institute continued to support efforts to increase transparency. However, we consider there is significant risk where the publication of selective information related to a particular taxpayer's tax position may be misinterpreted.

Small business

Significant work remains to be undertaken in respect of simplifying existing tax laws to alleviate the compliance burden on small business. This includes the implementation of the Board of Taxation's recommendations from the fast-track review into Tax System Impediments facing Small Business conducted in 2014; exploring the possibility of creating a separate 'small business entity' structure; streamlining access to small business concessions; and simplifying carry-forward loss integrity measures.

Superannuation

The Tax Institute focussed on the potential for deregulation in the superannuation system in this submission and proposed measures including the repeal of the '10% rule'. The rule is out-dated, discourages saving via superannuation by the self-employed, and creates unnecessary complexity and inequity. The Tax Institute deferred comments in relation to larger structural issues relating to the superannuation system to the submission to the White Paper.

Announced but unenacted tax measures

It is imperative that the Government continues to monitor announced measures in future to ensure that a legislative backlog does not develop again. The prioritised measures should be legislated as soon as possible.

Deregulation

The Tax Institute supported the Government's continued deregulation initiative and the publishing of a regulation impact statement in respect of each tax reform.

Child care affordability

The Tax Institute maintained its views on improving access to child care through the tax system. Two options would be to allow a tax deduction for child care costs and to use a refundable tax credit or cash grant.

The full Budget submission is now available on our website.

Thilini Wickramasuriya FTI is a 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.

Time to renovate

Last year, the ATO embarked on the daunting task of undertaking a review of its public advice and guidance. This includes rulings (income tax, GST, superannuation etc) and other types of guidance (determinations, interpretive decisions, fact sheets, and so on). An initial review of public advice and guidance was conducted by the ATO late last year. This is a priority issue for Second Commissioner Andrew Mills and Chief Tax Counsel Jeremy Hirschhorn, and is a key part of the “reinventing the ATO” project.

As part of the ATO’s greater review on public advice and guidance, The Tax Institute is leading a project to assist the ATO to “triage” its published rulings and guidance and help ensure that the most useful and up-to-date guidance is available to tax advisers and taxpayers. Our involvement forms a significant part of this important ATO initiative. With The Institute in the driving seat, this presents a great opportunity for members to have direct input early on in this review and puts us in an enviable position to positively influence external ATO guidance.

Together with the Chief Tax Counsel, we determined that the first step in this process was to embark on a review of all published taxation rulings that the ATO has issued from 1992 to date.

We have approached all of our members through both TaxVine and our technical committees to assist in identifying and prioritising what rulings should be considered initially. We have been overwhelmed by the response and I would like to thank those of you who have taken the time to pass their thoughts on to us. We encourage you to identify opportunities for reforming ATO public advice and guidance so that we can continue to work proactively with the ATO to help streamline the administration of our tax law.


Stephen Healey 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.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Gearing up for the 30th National Convention

The year is well and truly underway and I am sure the holidays are a distant memory for all of us. 2015 promises to deliver much in the tax arena, with the government’s long awaited tax issues paper now only weeks away from release. Additionally, we will continue to see the ATO pursuing its strategy to reinvent itself as it embarks on an ambitious program of reform under the leadership of the Commissioner and his team. The “reinventing the ATO” project will no doubt have a wide-ranging impact on our profession and we will continue to monitor and actively participate in it to ensure that our members are well-informed and well-placed for the future.

As we wait patiently for the long-anticipated government tax white paper and the first formal step in that process (being the release of the issues paper), The Tax Institute is already hard at work delivering its structured education program, CPD events and conferences and, of course, its all-important policy and advocacy work.

Suffice to say that my first month as president has been a busy one, with several submissions having been made to government, including a submission to the Senate inquiry on corporate tax avoidance, a submission on the proposed changes to employee share schemes, and a submission regarding one of the many “un-enacted measures” now (finally) proceeding in relation to look-through income tax treatment for instalment warrants.

Time to celebrate

This month, the Institute celebrates the 30th anniversary of the National Convention. This is Australia’s premier tax conference, where hundreds of tax professionals will converge on the sunny Gold Coast to be part of this terrific event.
 
The convention runs over three days, with 32 technical sessions and ample opportunity to network and connect (and re-connect) with your peers. We are privileged to have many of our nation’s thought leaders in tax with us to share their vast experience, as well as a number of high-profile guests. This year’s outstanding program includes keynote addresses from:
  • the Hon. Joe Hockey, MP, Federal Treasurer;
  • Chris Jordan, AO, CTA, Commissioner of Taxation;
  • Tony Slater, QC, CTA; and
  • Professor Henry Ergas.
Delegates will be able to learn from and mingle with leading tax experts in their field in the newly renovated surrounds of the RACV Royal Pines Resort, all the while earning 15 hours’ CPD.

Significantly, the Institute will also be celebrating the second Annual Tax Adviser of the Year Awards at the convention gala dinner. These awards recognise and celebrate the profession’s best and brightest in tax.

30 years is a wonderful achievement and I look forward to joining many of you at this year’s National Convention to celebrate!



Stephen Healey 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.



Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Release of the Intergenerational Report

On Wednesday last week, Tax Institute President Stephen Healey CTA, National Councillor Tim Neilson CTA and Senior Tax Counsel Robert Jeremenko CTA attended the first quarterly meeting of the ATO's National Tax Liaison Group for 2015. Many issues were discussed at the meeting, including a number of which The Tax Institute has a leading role. These include:

  • Exploring changes in environmental factors that may have a direct or indirect impact on tax law and administration - The Tax Institute gave the first presentation on this topic to NTLG members;
  • Update from Treasury on the legislative program and the Tax Reform White Paper process;
  • Corporate Tax Avoidance - policy developments related to base erosion and profit shifting and progress on the Senate Inquiry into Corporate Tax Avoidance;
  • Post-implementation review of the ATO's consultation framework that has been in place for the past 18 months or so;
  • Discussion of the "Reinventing the ATO" blueprint;
  • Discussion of the "ATO Guidance and Advice" review the ATO is running - The Tax Institute presented an update on the "Renovating ATO Rulings" project it is leading, and which also forms a significant part of the ATO review;
  • Discussion of the "Revising the Test Case Litigation" blueprint; and
  • 'Red-tape' reduction - including the NTLG members' work on safe harbours through a new network of safe harbour working groups focused on specific topic areas.

Release of the Intergenerational Report

Last week, the Government released the 2015 Intergenerational Report. The Government prepares an Intergenerational Report every 5 years. The Report contains economic projections over the next forty years and assesses the long-term sustainability of the current policy setting and how population changes may impact on economic growth, the workforce and the public purse. It assumes no change to the current policy setting.

There are 3 key drivers of economic growth: population, participation and productivity. A key part of the Report is the recognition of both the demands on and impact on revenue streams that may flow from future changes to the population and the economy.

Australia's current tax system was designed for a different time and the Report notes the very different environment our tax system must now operate in. Without structural tax reform, Australia will continue to rely on its mid-20th Century designed tax system to carry it well into the 21st Century. We look forward to the opportunities the Tax Reform White Paper process will afford us for structural reform and modernisation to the tax system when it begins.

The Report can be accessed here.

Please get in touch with us via Tax Policy should you wish to discuss any of the matters discussed at this or any of the other many consultations The Tax Institute participates in on behalf of members.


Stephanie Caredes CTA is a 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.