Friday, 29 May 2015

Press Release: The Tax Institute urges financial planners to check compliance after unregistered tax agents fall foul of the law

Australia’s leading educator and association of tax professionals, The Tax Institute, has warned tax agents and financial planners to ensure they have complied fully with registration requirements are after an unregistered Canberra-based tax agent and his company was ordered to pay $900,000 in fines.

The Federal Court of Australia has imposed the largest penalty to date for breaches of the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA). Mr Kolya and his company, HP Kolya Pty Ltd, were ordered to pay $150,000 and $750,000 respectively, alongside an injunction that prevents both parties from providing or advertising tax agent or BAS services for the next 10 years.

Chief Executive Officer for The Tax Institute, Noel Rowland, said the judgement and scale of penalty imposed was indicative of the importance of completing the education requirements set out under the legislation.

In the May judgement, the Court found that the actions undertaken by Mr Kolya and his company in preparing, amending and lodging tax returns and business activity statements were knowingly in breach of the TASA.

Neither Mr Kolya nor his company were registered tax agents or BAS agents at the time, yet advertised the provision of tax agent services on their website.

“The Kolya case is a timely reminder to prospective tax agents, and particularly financial planners, of the registration requirements under TASA,” Mr Rowland said.

“Many financial planners may not be aware they operate within the TASA regime and are required to be compliant with the education and registration requirements of that legislation,” he said.

“In order to successfully register, tax agents and planners must have completed courses in Commercial Law and Australian Taxation Law that are approved by the Tax Practitioners Board.”

The Tax Institute was one of the only industry bodies that offered comprehensive courses in both Commercial Law and Australian Taxation Law that meet the educational eligibility requirements of the Tax Practitioners Board.

As well as meeting the educational requirements, Mr Rowland said the courses were designed to provide individuals and experienced professionals with up-to-date information, detailed understanding and practical application of tax law in Australia.

The Tax Institute is urging any practicing tax agents, BAS agents and financial planners to ensure they were compliant with the TASA and Tax Practitioners’ Board requirements and, if they were not, to visit The Tax Institute’s website to enrol in the approved courses.

The Tax Institute has over 70 years’ experience as Australia’s leading educator and professional association in tax. The Tax Institute provides training and education, knowledge products and internationally recognised CTA designation that enhances the credentials of its 15,000 members.

Take the next step in your tax career with The Tax Institute's education programs.
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The busy world of tax

They say there is no rest for the wicked. I'm not sure about that. What I am sure of is that there is no rest in the constantly spinning world of tax, whichever way the axis is tilting.

This week, The Tax Institute lodged its submission on the exposure draft legislation making changes to restore integrity into the consolidation regime. Our submission is available here.

We also lodged our submission on the exposure draft providing look-through CGT treatment to earn out arrangements, one of our bigger concerns here being in relation to the narrow application of the treatment. Our submission is available here.

For members who work with non-profit organisations, it is worth noting that there is an apparent trend for the States and Territories to look to review the concessions they provide to charities and non-profit organisations. Western Australia has recently passed legislation to tighten the availability of concessions. The Northern Territory has introduced a Bill to do the same. The ACT is also considering making similar changes. As such, we have written to the ACT this week commenting on the proposal. A copy of our letter is available on our website.

Please see below for other recent Tax Policy and Advocacy activities.

Should you wish to contact the team about any policy matters, please feel free to do so via the Tax Policy inbox.

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.

Five early career milestones to hit

It’s never too early to start identifying or striving to reach career milestones. Here are five classic career goals you should aim to achieve during your first few years as a graduate.

1. Get really good at what you do

It doesn’t matter which tax courses you’ve completed at university or how much you think you know, as a new employee you’ll quickly become aware of just how much you need to learn. Seize every opportunity you can to broaden your knowledge, including gaining insight from bosses and colleagues, as well as sharpening your skills from the taxation education your employer offers. One day you’ll wake up and think to yourself, “You know, I’m now actually pretty good at my job.”

2. Get that first promotion (and the second and third)

No matter how minor it is, that first title bump creates the momentum that will hopefully push you all the way to the top of the tax industry. Don’t waste a minute starting your ascent up the ladder.

3. Work overseas

Take advantage of being young – and relatively commitment free if you’re working for a firm that offers overseas postings. Aside from the excitement of living somewhere such as New York or London, you’ll develop a new maturity and a broader, well-rounded outlook on life and work.

4. Manage others

Once you’ve learnt how to manage yourself, you’ll face the much more complicated task of managing others, which, depending on how good you are at it, can be either incredibly frustrating or wildly rewarding. Remember that if you’re good at managing yourself and your workload, you can always rely on having a job. But if you have the far rarer skill of also being good at managing others, you can rely on having a highly paid and high-powered executive position.

5. Add to your qualifications and expand your skill set

After spending almost a couple of decades in full-time education, it can be tempting to take a long sabbatical from study and focus on gaining real-world experience. However, you’re unlikely to reach many of the future milestones if you don’t expand your skill set, either by undertaking further tax training in the form of a CTA1, CTA2A, CTA2BCTA3, Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law or Master of Taxation, or by pursuing qualifications in complementary fields, such as people management.

In today’s crowded workforce, you need to demonstrate you’re a go-getter from the get-go. While you don’t need to adopt all the milestones suggested above, you should have a clear set of goals you’re actively working towards if you want to reach your full potential.

Take the next step in your tax career with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law

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Thursday, 28 May 2015

Dux interview: Jason De Marte, CTA2 Advanced

What is your study background prior to studying CTA2 Advanced?

I studied a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in accounting and taxation, at Curtin University and completed these studies in 2012. I have been working as a consultant at Cooper Partners for about 18 months now and have completed both CTA1 Foundations and CTA2 Advanced during this time. Cooper Partners places high importance on technical training and striving for excellence in whatever we undertake and that helped my approach to CTA2 Advanced.

What was the most valuable aspect of CTA2 Advanced and what have you taken away from it?

The most valuable aspect of CTA2 Advanced was being able to build on my taxation knowledge base in a wide variety of areas, including some I don’t often encounter in my everyday work. I have taken away this well-rounded knowledge base in many different areas of tax, which has been useful as it has given me the ability to apply what I have learned, both to my firm’s clients and the internal training program at Cooper Partners.

What are your areas of new confidence now that you have completed CTA2 Advanced?

I am now confident that, when I see issues arising with respect to the many different areas of tax covered within CTA2 Advanced, I will be able to not only pick up these issues, but also deal with them correctly. In addition, I feel that I will be able to improve any research that I need to undertake with the tips provided, and that I will be able to deliver this information to my colleagues and clients in the best way possible.

What was your reason for undertaking CTA2 Advanced?

Cooper Partners places a high degree of value on practical tax skills. I undertook CTA2 Advanced with The Tax Institute to be able to progress in my career with Cooper Partners and to continue on my way to completing my chartered accountant qualifications.

*CTA2 Advanced has now been split into two subjects, CTA2A Advanced and CTA2B Advanced.

Take the next step in your tax career with the CTA2A Advanced and CTA2B Advanced.

Find out more.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Five ways to impress your boss this EOFY

If you’re an accountant, you’ll know that nothing can accelerate stress levels quite like end of financial year (EOFY). Whether you’re tasked with processing countless tax returns or reconciling accounts, the weeks preceding 30 June can be fraught with professional and administrative challenges. However, the end of financial year also offers a serious opportunity to prove your ability to perform under pressure and establish yourself as the firm’s rising star. Here are five ways to impress your boss this EOFY.

Don’t be afraid to take initiative

If you’re facing back-to-back deadlines, it’s tempting to take a reactive approach to work. However, taking the time to identify a scheduling clash before it happens or fixing a mistake before it creates bigger problems can show your manager you’re unwilling to simply go through the motions.

Put in extra time

High-stress periods often call for employees to go above and beyond. Although work-life balance is essential, preparation for EOFY often involves the kind of mounting workload that warrants extra hours. Whether it’s arriving at the office half an hour early or staying back late, proving that you’re willing to be flexible when your job demands it can be a testament to your work ethic and level of commitment.

Dream up a system that’s more efficient

Sometimes, small changes to workplace systems can spell big gains in terms of productivity, efficiency and your ability to get things done. Whether it’s coming up with a new way to enter data or a filing method that improves client-record accuracy, spearheading a system that’s more efficient is a sign you can think outside the box. Don’t be afraid to schedule a meeting to communicate your ideas to your boss. Even if your scheme isn’t implemented, giving it your best shot can be rewarding in itself.

Offer to lend a hand

When your team mates are struggling with their workloads or dealing with a client issue that’s come out of nowhere, it’s wise to extend a helping hand. High-pressure periods can send stress levels through the roof, so putting your own interests aside to be a supportive colleague can make a world of difference.

Show extra attention to detail

It’s no secret that long days at your desk can see concentration levels wane. However, paying extra attention to the task at hand – even if it means giving yourself more time to complete it – can deepen your manager’s faith in you and save your firm from costly mistakes.

From taking initiative to helping struggling colleagues, EOFY can be a great opportunity for your skills and talents to shine. How do you go about upping your performance in the lead-up to 30 June?

Take the next step in your tax career with the CTA1 Foundations.

Find out more.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Uber and the GST implications

In a number of recent speeches (including at our National Convention in March), Treasurer Joe Hockey has told the story of ruminating the tax implications while waving goodbye to a friend from the United States who was headed to the airport in an Uber car. He queried the income tax implications for the driver, the GST implications for the driver and his friend, and how that compares to the situation of a taxi driver. These questions have now been answered by the ATO.

On Wednesday 20 May, the ATO issued a media release and guidance on its website indicating that the tax consequences for Uber drivers were analogous to those for a taxi driver. The ATO guidance also covers a range of other services supplied in the sharing economy and posits that the tax implications vary depending on the type of service provided. The implications of providing a room for rent on Airbnb are stated to be quite different to offering an Uber service because of special rules and carve-outs in the GST Act.

This is an example of our existing tax system playing catch-up with the new economy, and attempting to catch the innovators. As sure as the global economy continues to rapidly evolve and new business models emerge to challenge the traditional, we can expect the ATO to use the tools at their disposal to attempt to catch the innovators. The ATO has done what it can to shed some light on these issues. The broader question of whether the inconsistent treatments that arise for different services under the existing system are desirable as a matter of tax policy remains unanswered.

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.

Reviewing the ATO’s consultation framework

In 2013, with new leader Commissioner Chris Jordan at the helm, the ATO took on the enormous task of reviewing its consultation framework. The former framework involved an extensive network of 68 committees and working groups, all with the mandate to consult.

A comprehensive review was undertaken and input was sought from relevant stakeholders. The Tax Institute provided constructive feedback to the review to ensure that the new structure following the review would promote open and collaborative consultation.

The result of the restructure is the current framework, consisting of eight main stewardship and liaison groups and a number of other forums geared for consultation on specific areas. The ATO also established the “Hub”, a new portal through which the broader community could raise issues of strategic importance for consultation, and a register of stakeholders with expertise in certain areas of tax law and administration — a highly useful resource for the ATO to draw on for expertise.

This structure is much simpler than the former, and provides greater flexibility for consultation on areas affecting the stewardship of our tax and superannuation systems.

The Tax Institute welcomed a refreshed consultation framework and has ensured that our members are represented in the relevant peak forums (the National Tax Liaison Group, the ATO Tax Practitioners Advisory Group and the Consultation Steering Group) and other important working groups.

With any new initiative, there are always creases to be ironed out and The Tax Institute has sought to provide constructive feedback to ensure that the new framework works as intended.

It is now well over 18 months since the framework was officially implemented on 1 July 2013 and it has been in full swing for some time — long enough for us to have a good sense of what is working well and what creases still need to be ironed out. So it is timely that a formal post-implementation review is being undertaken by the ATO to ensure that the framework holds us all, the ATO and stakeholders alike, in good stead for open and robust consultation in the future.

We have drawn on our members’ experiences with the new framework to feed into the review. While some experiences have been more positive than others, this is not unexpected, given the radical structural changes the ATO has made to its framework to which all stakeholders needed to adjust. We anticipate the outcome of the review later this month or in June, but we are encouraged by the consultative process of assessment being undertaken.

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, 20 May 2015

New Corporate Tax subject launched

Anticipating the future education needs of the tax profession — and in light of the government’s topical tax discussion paper — we are proud to introduce a new Corporate Tax subject to our education program. This subject provides detailed knowledge and understanding of the tax rules and practical problems involved in the taxation of consolidated corporate groups, and has been designed by tax practitioners at the forefront of this highly specialised area to deliver practical learning with academic rigor. Enrolments close on 1 July 2015 so find out more at

Study period 2 open for enrolments

The Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law, including the new Corporate Tax subject, is now open for enrolments. Subjects commence on 6 July 2015. The CTA1 Foundations, CTA2A Advanced and CTA2B Advanced subjects are again offered as stand-alone for anyone who is looking to meet the Australian taxation law component of the education requirements of the Tax Practitioners Board. To find out more, and to enrol, go to

2015 events

As we’re now almost half-way through the year, we’ve enjoyed seeing so many of our members, along with many new faces, at the Financial Services Taxation Conference, our National Convention on the Gold Coast, and at numerous other events across the country. We’ve still got a very full schedule of events coming up in the latter half of 2015, including:
  • National Infrastructure Conference: covering the many issues that are relevant to the industry, including capital/income distinction in an infrastructure context, key tax issues on privatisations, financing stapled structures, structuring capital contributions tax effectively, and MIT rules in an infrastructure context. Join us in Melbourne on 28 to 29 May;
  • Private Business Tax Retreat: this event continues to be a unique opportunity for advisers of private business to interact in an environment that allows them to drill down on coalface issues in a manner that ensures they can continue to deliver the high-level advice that clients’ rightfully expect. Join us on the Gold Coast on 11 to 12 June for this not-to-be-missed event; and
  • Annual State Taxation Conference: this year’s conference will be held in Canberra on 23 to 24 July and is the only national conference covering all state and territory taxes in one technical program. This year’s program includes the Revenue Commissioners’ reassessment and refund powers, the current state of the law affecting charities, and much more. Visit our website to find out more about these events and the many others taking place throughout the remainder of 2015.

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, 19 May 2015

Landing that graduate position

So you’re hunting for that elusive graduate position, wondering what employers in the tax industry want and how can you impress them. Here are three pieces of advice, plus some career words of wisdom straight from the horse’s mouth.

1. Having a good personality matters

If you’ve managed to graduate with your degree firmly in hand, you’re probably more than up to the technical side of the job. What employers will be keen to establish is whether you’ll be a good cultural fit. Try to establish a good rapport with them and let your personality shine through.

2. Don’t place too much emphasis on your tax education

Trust us, your employer understands you only completed one or two tax courses and have largely forgotten what you learnt. There’s no need to talk up your skill set given they’ll be enrolling you in taxation education if they decide to hire you.

3. Exaggeration is acceptable – lying isn’t

Interviewers expect you to talk yourself up – it demonstrates you’re keen to get the position – but they won’t appreciate being seriously misled. Make sure you don’t cross the line by pretending to have a Master of Taxation when you actually don’t.

Here’s what two respected tax professionals look for in their job applicants.

Daleen Van der Merwe, HR manager at DKM

“When employing graduates, we pay more attention to whether their attitudes and personality are such that they will fit into our existing team, rather than focusing just on their academic record. They need to be the type of person who is prepared to ask questions and be ready to learn. They also need to be comfortable with starting at the bottom and have realistic expectations.
“We’ve found that those who’ve done extra study, such as a Master of Taxation, straight after their undergraduate degree are overqualified and inexperienced. We prefer that people come to us and then do the CTA1 Foundations program while working here.”

Martin Booth, partner at Moore Stephens

“I used to focus heavily on the academic side, but then found that I also had to give thought to cultural fit – is the person going to have the ability to get along with other staff? Are you going to be confident putting them in front of clients? That said, you still need to have a fairly good CV behind you.
“If someone took the initiative and did the CTA1 Foundations at their own expense before applying for a job here, that would certainly be to their advantage. The issue many employers have with Gen Y is not so much a lack of skills as an attitude of entitlement. So someone who is going to invest their own time in broadening their skill set, either before or after being employed here, would always be looked favourably upon.”

Take the next step in your tax career with the CTA1 Foundations.

Find out more.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Dux interview: Natalie Moore, CTA1 Foundations

Why did you choose to study with The Tax Institute?

The CTA program and the Tax Institute was recommended to me by a colleague.

Why did you choose to study?

I thought that the CTA program would give me the best qualification going forward. I also used the introductory unit as a refresher prior to re-starting in the workforce after time off having a family.

What was the most important outcome of studying?

The CTA1 and CTA2 units gave me excellent information and learning in order to prepare for my return to public practice. I returned to work early this year after completing them in 2014 armed with up-to-date knowledge and information in the taxation field.

In your opinion, what separates The Tax Institute’s education programs from other providers?

The Tax Institute program is flexible and features industry-specific information relative to the needs of accountants and tax professionals.

How has your study with The Tax Institute benefited your career objectives?

I have found the CTA1 and CTA2 courses invaluable in providing me up-to-date information in the taxation field. I often refer to the texts and course materials in the course of my daily work routine.

How did your study fit in with, and support, your career?

At the time I undertook the study last year, I was not working, however I was running a busy household with 3 children under 6. The flexible online delivery and webinar format was fantastic in allowing me to complete my studies in my own hours and timeframes.

Take the next step in your tax career with the CTA1 Foundations.

Find out more.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

What a week!

What a week for small businesses! As members would have seen in our Special Budget Edition of TaxVine issued on Tuesday night, many new changes were announced benefitting small business taxpayers, including tax cuts, an immediate deduction for professional fees and the ‘big ticket' item, an immediate deduction for assets costing less than $20,000 available from Budget night.

However, this Budget was also about protecting integrity in our tax system, with the introduction of a variety of measures to combat multinational tax avoidance including a new anti-avoidance provision and more extensive transfer pricing documentation requirements, and a proposal to extend the reach of the GST to apply to cross border supplies of digital products and services imported into Australia. We are already busy consulting on these new measures with the release of the Exposure Drafts on Budget night. Members interested in these consultations can find further details about them on the Treasury website.

It's not all about the Budget though. Treasury has been busy of late consulting on many of the ‘un-enacted measures' that are still hanging around – earn outs, scrip-for-scrip rollover changes and amendments to consolidation to name a few. The ATO too is hard at work working out how best to implement all these new changes, such as developing standard documentation and safe harbours for the new employee share scheme rules and getting to work on guidance material for taxpayers in relation to the new managed investment trust rules. There are busy times ahead.

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.

Friday, 15 May 2015

“Re:think”, review – reflections on structural reforms

A strong foundation is essential if we are to achieve fundamental and lasting reform of our tax system. To achieve such fundamental change will require courage and a number of brave decisions to be taken.

“Re:thinking” the tax system

The beginning of the highly anticipated tax reform white paper process began on 30 March 2015 with the release of the government’s tax discussion paper, Re:think. This document promises to form the centrepiece of a wide-ranging debate around the future of Australia’s outdated tax system. Notwithstanding recent announcements in relation to the possible introduction of a diverted profits tax and the imposition of GST on streamed digital content, I remain hopeful that the document will still serve its core purpose.

Tinkering on the periphery with a handful of ideas such as these, in our view, isn’t enough and in fact may serve to inadvertently undermine the integrity of the white paper process. Having said this, we are encouraged to see that the discussion paper captures the breadth of the scope of challenges in front of the government regarding the existing structure of our tax system, in particular the fact that we have a mid-20th century designed tax system that needs to be modernised to efficiently and
effectively operate in the 21st century.

The Tax Institute has long argued for a simpler, fairer tax system in Australia, and the release of the tax discussion paper lays the groundwork for this rethink.

However, this is not just the time to “think” about the structural elements of the tax system, but to have a robust and mature debate on the significant issues affecting our tax system. This includes everything from alleged tax avoidance by multinational corporations through to the implications of bracket creep affecting individual wage earners that simply comes about by virtue of inflation.

The Tax Institute will continue to take a holistic view of the tax system and put forward to the government substantive ideas for reform to improve the foundations on which Australia’s tax system is built.

To do this, we have been drawing on the very broad-ranging expertise of members through our Technical Committees to assist us in preparing our response to the tax discussion paper in the nine weeks allocated. We will continue to be proactive as the process moves into its next phase and the generation of the government’s green paper.

I encourage members to get in touch with the Institute’s Tax Policy & Advocacy team at any time to put forward your views and suggestions for reform.

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.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

What are recruiters looking for in their graduate tax professionals – could it be you?

For the recently graduated, you’ve weathered long nights of study and emerged triumphant, armed with all the makings of an accomplished tax professional. So how can you ensure you have the opportunity to turn this dream into a well-paying reality?

What tax recruiters are looking for

The Big Four cite educational diversity, ambition and a passion to contribute (and evolve) in the workplace as the most coveted traits of a graduate tax professional. Studying the candidate-selection process used by the firms you apply to can be indicative of the skills they prioritise, and therefore the skills you should underscore during the application process.
  • While selection methods will vary from firm to firm, you can expect the standard process to include a series of interviews, face-to-face assessments and a test of applied skill, such as a case study, to determine your eligibility. Specifically, your would-be employers are looking to gauge:
  • Why you chose to apply for the role, including demonstrating what knowledge you have of the firm
  • Your communication and time-management skills.
  • Your literacy and numeracy levels.
  • Your personality, including your teamwork skills and leadership potential.

Increasing your odds

Beyond having an impeccable CV, being versed in industry news and proactively networking at career events, there are a few things that will help you better prepare:
  • During the job-application process, make notes on each company’s organisational structure. Should you be successful and progress to the interview stage, this material will be important to convey not only your readiness to progress, but your interest in the firm. Specifically, what is your pathway to progress and what in-company learning programs are available?
  • Behavioural questions are a favourite among recruiters to judge your personal skills. These are often situational-based with answers that reflect how well you handle tense situations. An example would include: “Tell me how you solved a problem that had a particularly time-sensitive deadline?"
  • Respond to these questions using the STAR technique: situation, task, action, result. Contextualise your answer, outline what was required of you, define what course of action you took and how it played out. This will help keep your answer robust, but concise.
  • An eagerness to undertake further education, particularly those courses that feature practical skills such as the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law, is a pursuit well-received by employers. This is a trait that helps demonstrate your dedication, determination to succeed and budding management skills.

While qualifications alone are not the golden key to your first job, they do equip you with a number of desirable traits that employers are looking for. Take note on how you can improve during the selection process and bolster your chances of taking home the prize. the next step in your tax career with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law 

Find out more

National Infrastructure Conference speaker profile: Julian Peck

Julian Peck is head of Infrastructure and Utilities at Morgan Stanley. He leads the M&A advisory team in Australia that covers transactions in infrastructure, utilities and transport sectors, and is based in Melbourne. His team has been heavily involved in most of the large infrastructure M&A transactions in recent years, for example, running the NSW ports leasing transactions. For most of the last 19 years he has been in a variety of advisory roles, and most of that time in these industry sectors. He started his professional career in corporate tax at Coopers & Lybrand as it was then known.

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

For me it is an opportunity to exchange ideas with leading tax practitioners on the impacts of tax law settings and, potential changes thereof, on large infrastructure transactions.

What is the topic that you are presenting at the National Infrastructure Conference?

I have been invited to present on the infrastructure market in Australia and the importance of taxation law and reform in infrastructure delivery. The presentation is on Day One of the Conference in Session 1 at 1:00pm-1.55pm.

What can attendees expect to take away from your session?

Our business focus is on M&A of existing assets. So I plan to walk through the infrastructure investment market activity of late which we have been heavily involved in, discuss management of taxation issues on the buyside and sellside of a transaction, and then give a bankers perspective on the consequences of taxation law reform for that ongoing activity. I will leave the technical tax discussions to the real experts, but hopefully I can relate the importance of tax to the ongoing attraction of capital to the sector.

Which other sessions at the National Infrastructure Conference are you most interested in attending?

I was planning to take in some of the sessions on the Friday on infrastructure value trends, stapled structures and leasing structures.

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

When I am not working I try to spend as much time as I can with the family as priority #1. As winter approaches I look forward to spending most of my chilly Sunday mornings at my daughters’ soccer matches. As you get older I have found you also have to work harder to stay fit and healthy so in the last few years I have taken up long distance events such as triathlon.

Join us in Melbourne  for The Tax Institute's National Infrastructure ConferenceThis conference program covers many issues that are relevant to our industry, including the capital/income distinction in an infrastructure context, key tax issues on privatisations, financing stapled structures, structuring capital contributions tax effectively and MIT rules in an infrastructure context.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

NSW Annual Tax Forum speaker profile: Graeme Colley

Graeme Colley is currently the Head of Technical and Professional Standards at the SMSF Association.  His experience in superannuation spans over 35 years where has been involved as a regulator with the ATO and Insurance and Superannuation Commission as well as experience with a number of leading organisations.  In his current role Graeme assists in formulating policy for self managed funds for the SMSF Association, technical advice for members as well as overseeing the development and maintenance of professional standards.  He is also an author of a number of publications as well as an adjunct lecturer with the UNSW and UWS.

How long have you been affiliated with The Tax Institute?

My links with the Tax Institute probably go back as far as my days as a student when the journals proved an invaluable source in helping with my understanding of the income tax law.  However, over recent years the Tax Institute has kindly invited me to talk at various discussion groups and conferences in Sydney.

What does the NSW Tax Forum mean to you, and more broadly, to the tax industry?

The NSW Tax Forum is an important event in the tax learning calendar to help in updating your knowledge, exploring new areas of the law and meeting practitioners in the field.

What is the topic that you are presenting?

I am presenting on limited recourse borrowing arrangements and developments in that area, particularly in view of the recommendations of the Murray Report and proposed legislation on the look through provisions.  Limited recourse borrowing arrangements have receive significant publicity over the past few years and constitute a very small component of the superannuation industry.  However, with new players and the number of mistakes that are made it’s worthwhile to keep abreast of what is going on.

What can attendees expect to learn from your session?

What attendees can take away from this session depends on their level of understanding and involvement in limited recourse borrowing arrangements.  For those new to the topic hopefully they will be challenged and for those will sound experience I would hope that the session would add to their understanding or provide a difference angle on aspects of limited recourse borrowing arrangements.

What new or hot topics will you cover?

The hot topics will cover the changes in the ATO’s attitude to these arrangements, the impact on proposed laws and the issues surrounding non-commercial arrangements.

How will attending your session help delegates help their clients?

I see this session as getting practitioners to think objectively as to whether these types of arrangements are truly in their interest.

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

There are many excellent sessions that I could attend.  I think Lisa Oddo’s session on super and estate planning, Andrew Noonan’s session on issues with trusts, the concepts of income with Mark Robinson and the session on cutting edge financial planning are probably the most relevant out of an excellent bunch.

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

I like cross country running and enjoying some of the great friendships that I have.

Join us in Sydney for The Tax Institute's NSW 8th Annual Tax Forum 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, 11 May 2015

2015 Private Business Retreat

With only three weeks out delegate numbers for the Private Business Tax Retreat are once again strong. The retreat allows you to interact with high calibre practitioners and speakers on key technical and coalface issues.

That a lot of the delegates are repeat attendees shows the support that this retreat rightly receives as being a prime opportunity to engage with peers and colleagues from all states within Australia.

2014 Testimonials

"The Tax Institute’s Private Business Tax Retreat is a fantastic conference for the small to medium business tax adviser.  The quality of the speakers are exceptional, and The Tax Institute’s access to senior ATO officer’s is second to none.  It is also a great conference to network with other practitioners that face similar challenges in their own practices as you."
Garth Drinkwater, CTA, MTax, CA, BComm
Managing Director - Tax Advisory Specialists

"It was wonderfully refreshing to have such high calibre speakers be so forthcoming and direct in sharing information on several key technical matters. The 2014 Private Business Tax Retreat held on the Gold Coast was a great mix of technical, practical concepts and ideas for consideration by advisors. It was a pleasure to attend such a structured program, which provided a great balance between technical, practical and social."
Neil Jones, CTA
Director - Tax Banter Pty Ltd

"I notice that at the start of each Private Business Tax Retreat I feel acutely aware of the quality of the presentations and a strong sense of my own technical inadequacies. By the end of the conference I’m always glad I came, have enjoyed the hospitality of the Tax Institute team,  feel like I have a renewed high-level overview of the current  tax issues relevant to my practice - and importantly - I always have key strategies and must-do action points to take away and implement with my team and my clients."
David Sen, CTA
Principal - David Sen Chartered Accountants

"I attended the Private Business Tax Retreat in May 2014 which I have done each year since it was first offered by the Tax Institute some four years ago. Every year the program has been well considered in terms of practical content, very well run at an exceptional venue. This year has been no exception with the added benefit of having an executive member of the ATO in attendance over the two days to provide an invaluable insight into the views of the regulator. These retreats conducted by the Tax Institute are first class and I encourage practitioners to place these professional development retreats on their must do list."
Grant Wallace, CTA
Director - Wallace Group

Join us on the Gold Coast  for The Tax Institute's 2015 Private Business Tax Retreat. The retreat provides a unique opportunity for advisors of private business to interact in an environment that allows them to drill down on coalface issues in a manner that ensures they can continue to deliver the high level advice that clients’ rightfully expect.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Commissioner of Taxation - new powers in fixing the tax law

Not that we are counting, but there are only four sleeps to go until the release of Federal Budget for 2015-16. As always, The Tax Institute will be participating in the Budget lock-up, and a special Budget edition of TaxVine containing key insights will be released on Tuesday night, so that you will be ready to talk ‘revenue measures' at the coffee machine on Wednesday morning.

In other news, last Friday the Assistant Treasurer announced that the Commissioner would be given a power to fix the tax law where it results in unintended consequences.

We support a statutory remedial power for the Commissioner of Taxation in principle, but have reservations regarding its operation in practice. The essence of the power is pragmatism and that should not be lost in its administration.

The power is based on sound principles of building certainty, reducing complexity, and achieving timely resolution of unintended tax outcomes. Those principles should be front of mind when the power is implemented, and appropriate safeguards should be built in to its exercise.

There are questions still to be answered regarding the power. The Assistant Treasurer's announcement does not mention public consultation in relation to the establishment of proposed power, only in relation to its exercise.

In an ideal tax system, such a power would not be required because tax legislation would be clear, timely and consistent with its policy intent. The mere existence of the power should not encourage complacency on the part of Government when it comes to legislating tax measures.

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.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Annual Report and AGM

Renew your 2015-16 membership online and win!

Membership renewals are now due. All online membership renewals received before 12 June 2015 will go into the draw to win one of five early bird prizes of $1,000 from HSBC Bank Australia.
Renew your 2015-16 membership at

AGM notice

Early this month, you will have received notification of The Tax Institute’s Annual General Meeting taking place later this month. The Seventy-second Annual General Meeting of The Tax Institute will be held at 4.00 pm on Thursday, 28 May 2015 at the offices of The Tax Institute situated on Level 10, 175 Pitt Street, Sydney, NSW 2000. You can download notice of meeting documents and a proxy form online at

Annual Report

The 2014 Annual Report is now available to download online. Visit to read your copy.

Have you downloaded our apps?

Giving you the knowledge you need, wherever you are, our growing range of apps includes The Tax Institute App, which features each month’s Taxation in Australia and your copy of TaxVine every Friday. Make sure you also download our CPD App, which helps you get the most from the Institute events you attend, as well as The Tax Specialist App, bringing you each issue of Australia’s leading journal for corporate tax professionals to your iPad or Android tablet. Visit to find out more.

TaxWise News federal Budget edition

Following weeks of media speculation, we’re finally about to see what the 2015-16 federal Budget features. TaxWise News subscribers, make sure to keep an eye on your inbox for our special Budget edition which will cover what the announcements mean for you and your clients. If you’re not a subscriber, visit our website to find out more about this service.

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.

Monday, 4 May 2015

State's Taxation Conference speaker profile: Andrew Rider

Andrew is a NSW Barrister specialising in state tax disputes, particularly land tax. He has been affiliated with The Tax Institute for more than 20 years.

What does the 15th Annual States’ Taxation Conference mean to you, and more broadly, to the tax industry?

Frank interaction between tax advisers and revenue offices about important practical and technical issues for the greater benefit and understanding of all parties.

What is the topic that you are presenting and what can attendees expect to learn?

I'm presenting on contemporary land tax issues and they can expect practical and technical insights into commonly misunderstood and disputed land tax issues.

What new or hot topics will you cover?

Exemptions for primary production land and principal place of residence.

How will attending your session help delegates help their clients?

Better understanding of practical and technical issues and how to approach them.

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

Sessions on duties and recent developments.

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

Cycling and travel.

Join us in Canberra  for The Tax Institute's 15th Annual States Taxation ConferenceWith 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.

Friday, 1 May 2015

It's Budget season!

This week saw the release of the 2015-16 Northern Territory Budget on Tuesday. The Victorian government will hand down its 2015-16 Budget next Tuesday 5 May with the rest of the States and Territories to release their budgets over the coming weeks.

The biggest one that stands out is, of course, the Federal Budget to be handed down on Tuesday 12 May. Some measures that may be included in the Federal Budget have already been leaked. We are certainly interested to see, for example, what the package promising tax cuts for small businesses is all about.

In other news, The Tax Institute hosted a roundtable discussion with the Federal Treasurer, the Hon Joe Hockey MP, and senior members of the Treasurer's Tax White Paper Unit in Adelaide on Tuesday to discuss the Government's Tax Discussion Paper. Here is a link to our media release.

Members of the Institute had the opportunity to provide feedback to the Treasurer on the recently released Discussion Paper. The contributions our members have to make to the national conversation on tax reform is very important. As such, Sydney-based members are meeting with the Treasurer's Tax White Paper Unit and Treasury's Tax White Paper Taskforce today with further opportunities for members in other capital cities to be arranged shortly.

As always, you are invited to contact us via Tax Policy should you have any matters you wish to raise with us in relation to the above.

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.