Change is the only constant - The 2016 Queensland Tax Forum

The theme of this year’s Queensland Tax Forum reflects the fact that the economies, here in Queensland, Australia-wide and globally are in transition. While actual “tax reform” seems a long way off, we find ourselves in interesting times while the way our clients, be they SMEs or Corporate, do business is changing.

Here we speak to four presenters from 2016’s Forum on what to expect from their sessions, on career and team management, M&A transactions and interacting with the ATO, tax transparency, and state taxes.

Your career – Maximising potential in a changing environment
Stuart Cameron, CTA, has been with Suncorp since 1998, and affiliated with The Tax Institute since 1993. Stuart will take part in a panel discussion, facilitated by Praty Patel, CTA, and featuring Andrew Lowe, CTA (Aurizon Holdings), Janet McLeod (The WRAP Group), and Linda Tapiolas, CTA (Cooper Grace Ward Lawyers). The panel will discuss the need for businesses and tax professionals to adapt to survive, and how to do so in a way that maximises individual potential and that of our teams.

Stuart tells us that "After a 15 year period as a corporate tax specialist, I expanded my horizons to include capital markets, which lead to sufficient experience and recognition to move into broader finance and financial risk roles".

The session will look at investing in your career and those of your team for a seat at the table, and tips for managing teams for peak performance. It will also look at growing the business – understanding the business acumen and drivers, creating value and impacts on strategy. Here Stuart says "Having been a client of tax practices for 18 years, I bring the client’s perspective", and that the session will "provide insights into the benefits of a tax-based career, and a pragmatic, commercial approach".

M&A transactions: Managing the big issues and working with the ATO
Brendon Lamers, ATI, is a Partner at KPMG working in the Infrastructure and Property Tax team. He has over 15 years’ experience in providing taxation advice to a variety of financial institutions, foreign pension funds, infrastructure arrangers as well as to large domestic and multinational corporate clients.

Brendon will join Peter Maher of the ATO to present ‘How to Approach A Transaction – Interacting with the ATO’.

Every M&A transaction involves a balance of properly managing the big issues and working with the ATO to deliver appropriate outcomes. The increasing 'real time' involvement of the ATO in transactions means that engaging with them appropriately is even more crucial. Brendon and Peter will look at issues involved in doing so from both sides of the transaction, discussing corporate reorganisations as part of a transaction, specific issues arising out of the nature of investors, and the ATO’s views on topical transaction issues like MITs and approach to transaction management, including FIRB.

Brendon tells us his focus in the session will be around "how you can practically bring a transaction to a financial close in the volatile regulatory environment – whilst maintaining your, and your client’s, sanity".

Tax transparency is here to stay
Pressure on Australian corporates to respond to the demand for tax transparency is set to increase over the coming years. Co-presenting the session ‘Tax Transparency is Here to Stay’ with Ann-Maree Wolff, CTA, Board of Taxation, is Andrew Porter; current chair of the G100, the peak body for CFOs, and CFO of Australia’s largest listed investment company.

Their session considers tax transparency in Australia and practical aspects related to strategy and compliance. Asked what attendees should expect to learn, Andrew said "A corporate approach to voluntary tax transparency, and an understanding of the key drivers for corporates in such an approach".

Andrew and Ann-Maree will look at how the debate around transparency in Australia has been shaped by global factors, as well as emerging tax transparency initiatives within the Australian framework. They will discuss the proposed Tax Transparency Code, and look at the practical issues when an organisation is building its response to the changing tax transparency environment.

Asked which other sessions he was looking forward to, Andrew mentioned “[Daryl Conroy, of Suncorp Bank’s] ‘Economic Insight’, as well as ‘Tax Issues For Distressed Times’ [with Deloitte’s Teresa Dyson, CTA and Evan Last, CTA]”

State Taxes
With an economy in transition, the fiscal outlook for Queensland requires a careful review of Queensland’s revenue law and tax administration policy including areas for state revenue law reform and what this means practically for taxpayers transacting in Queensland.

Harry Lakis, CTA, is a Barrister. After 22 years practising as a solicitor and partner in national law firms, he commenced at the Queensland Bar in 2005. His practice includes a particular focus on Australia-wide state taxes and duties, as well as direct and indirect federal taxes.

Now into his fourth decade as a tax practitioner, Harry brings his considerable experience to our panel discussion on State Taxes on day two of the Forum, joining Sarah Blakelock, CTA (KPMG), Andrew Cornish, CTA (BHP Billiton) and James Petterson, ATI (Deloitte).

The panel will review Queensland’s revenue law and tax administration policy, including areas for state revenue law reform, and what this means practically for taxpayers transacting in Queensland.

Harry tells us that attendees will "hear about current tax administration policy and experience, and discover how to identify administrative and legislative pitfalls, specifically looking at managing transactional tax risk in the context of state taxes, a taxpayer’s rights to challenge decisions made by the Commissioner of State Revenue, practical tools taxpayers can employ to navigate commercial challenges, as well as possible opportunities for state tax policy reform and how such reform could drive investment in a rapidly transitioning state economy."

The 2016 Queensland Tax Forum takes place 18-19 August at the Brisbane Marriott Hotel. Choose from 28 sessions over two days and a range of flexible ticket options with up to 13.5 CPD hours on offer. Find out more.

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