Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Diving into Digital at the 31st National Convention

The rise of digital technology has challenged every aspect of the way we think and work. Digital disruption isn't a new issue – it’s a new reality. In an age where digital technology holds the power to change the status quo and turn upside down industries that were once held to be conservative and resistant to change, the key to survival is to ride the tide and catch the digital wave of opportunity to maximise profitability and future growth. Join us in Melbourne this year at the Tax Institute’s 31st National Convention to hear from some of the profession's most well-regarded thought leaders on a future that is already here.

The National Convention is Australia’s premier event for tax professionals. We are proud to showcase an impressive line-up of keynote speakers, including Chris Jordan, AO, CTA, Peter Williams, Michael Andrew, Ken Spence, CTA-Life, and many more well-regarded thought leaders. We look also to the future and are excited to host the Tax Adviser of the Year Awards gala dinner to celebrate the best and brightest tax professionals – individuals who represent the pinnacle achievement for the best tax practitioners and are making their mark in tax.

With tax reform and innovation high on the country's agenda and this year’s Federal Budget touted as the Government’s "tax platform", tax has never been so hot a topic. This year’s Convention captures the essence of these changes through its technical sessions – from disruption to BEPs to superannuation – the program has broad appeal and relevant for delegates with small practices through to those working in mid-tier or large accounting firms.

Practitioners of the Round Table!

For the very first time, we are hosting the inaugural ATO Round Table where delegates are invited to hear from senior ATO representatives as they hash out issues and communicate directly with you in a discussion-based format! The Round Table will involve a series of Q&A’s covering an array of current technical issues of importance to tax practitioners. The Q&As will be published, with the aim of providing practical guidance on the ATO's position on these topics. If you would like to put a question to the panel for consideration, tweet using the hashtag #31NatCon.

Disruption isn't a dirty word

Rewind only a few years back and the word "disruption" almost always carried with it negative connotations. Cut to the present and the word has taken on a whole different persona. Disruption is no longer just a corporate-speak buzzword. No longer something to be feared, it now carries with it positive connotations of technological advancement, innovation, change and agility.

As Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in his first statement as Liberal leader:

We have to recognise that the disruption that we see driven by technology, the volatility in change is our friend if we are agile and smart enough to take advantage of it.”

Making friends with change is all well and good, but what does it have to do with tax? More specifically, what does digital disruption have to do with your firm and your client? Where will future competition come from?

Failure to recognise disruptors may have a negative impact on your profits as well as adversely impact your interaction with your clients. Is your business prepared for this explosion of new technologies?

Let’s get digital, digital!

Recognised thought leader and digital innovation guru Peter Williams (Deloitte) addresses these questions in his session, as well as highlights the potential digital disruptors affecting your firm and the tax industry as a whole. Some topics Peter will discuss include:

  • Emerging technologies and platforms
  • The use of mobile technology and digital interaction with clients
  • Cognitive computing.
Day one of the Convention will also showcase Joanne Dunne, CTA, as she considers the issues arising for digital businesses and businesses transitioning to have a digital presence, first in Australia and then globally. Her session will consider these issues that impact upon digital businesses of all sizes:
  • Hosting arrangements, customer terms and conditions, record retention and the deductibility of costs against website establishment and maintenance
  • In-house software development, depreciation and R&D
  • Residence and taxable presence – where a digital business is resident, how a PE arises (including OECD’s BEPS project on PEs)
  • Source issues – how the source of income is determined, when a contract is concluded, the use of digital signatures and GST source issues.
Stay up to date on recent case law on royalties, treaties and residence as Joanne takes you through the Seven Network case and Bywater Investments. Lots to take in!

Not just for the big players…

SMSF, MIT, GST, FBT, TP… do these acronyms get you excited? Concerned?

It’s an interesting time to practise within the SME sector. With tax reform high on the Government’s agenda, new legislation and case law are constantly rearing their heads with big impact on your clients’ business. The Convention boasts a wide range of topics for the SME and corporate streams, with each speaker unpacking technical tax issues on topics such as superannuation, trusts, Div 7A, Part IVA and CGT small business concessions. Arm yourself with real life case studies and understand the tax implications that these issues might have on your client.

We invite you to come along and to this premier tax event. Get armed and ready for the digital age. See you there!

The 31st National Convention takes place 2-4 March 2016 at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne. Incorporating more than 30 sessions, and the 2016 Tax Adviser of the Year Awards, it's an ideal opportunity to hear the latest thinking on tax, network and mingle with your peers, and celebrate the best of the profession. Find out more.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

‘Tax Issues for Digital Business’ with Joanne Dunne, CTA

Joanne Dunne, CTA, is a Tax Partner at Minter Ellison, Melbourne. With more than 20 years' experience in tax in both Australia and New Zealand, her experience includes advising and assisting clients in the e-commerce industry, or those which have a digital presence, on commercial and tax structuring, international tax, residency and source issues, and contract issues.

Affiliated with The Tax Institute for more than a decade, Joanne is presenting on ‘Tax Issues for Digital Business’ at the 31st National Convention in Melbourne. We spoke to Joanne about her upcoming presentation, and what else to look forward to at March’s Convention.

“It is good to see the National Convention return to Melbourne this year; it is the preeminent conference where sessions of relevance to all sectors and sizes of business are offered”, Joanne told us. “Among many other sessions, I am interested in the cases session on day three from Eugene Wheelahan and in particular Chris Sievers' GST update”.

Joanne’s presentation, on the first day of the convention, considers the issues arising for digital businesses and businesses transitioning to have a digital presence. “The session will follow a case study for a small retail/service Australian business moving to a digital presence in Australia first and then growing and going global. It will cover the specific digital issues to consider for entities like the one described in the case study, and about potential future law change and policy developments in the digital space. I’ll also be briefly highlighting some of the critical non-tax issues for businesses moving to have a digital presence”, she said.

On how attending the session will help delegates help their clients, Joanne said “The case study has been formulated to cover clients of all sizes considering a move to a digital presence. Basic issues like deductibility of website development costs will be considered; not just cross border related issues. The case study also covers some of the more complex issues to consider when considering a global presence – such as source, residence, nature of income. The idea is that attendees dealing with clients will all get at least something out of the case study”.

“Recent cases relevant to the digital economy with appeals due in 2016 will be considered in my session (e.g. Seven Network case on royalties, Tech Mahindra case on business profits vs royalties in the Treaty context).  I’ll also be touching on other recent cases on issues such as residence (e.g. Bywater Investments). This will ensure that attendees are aware of the most recent case law on those issues that are important to determining tax impacts for clients moving to have a digital presence.

When asked about what the the new financial year may bring for digital businesses, Joanne predicted “While it will be a huge thing to manage at the OECD, I think that by year end Treaty changes will have been accepted in a multilateral agreement which could impact on when a permanent establishment arises for entities in the digital economy. Australia will sign up to that.”

The 31st National Convention takes place at the Grand Hyatt, 2-4 March 2016. Featuring more than 30 sessions, and three streams (SME, Corporate and Hot Topics), the wide-ranging program has something for everyone. Featuring the black tie Gala Dinner and 2016 Tax Adviser of the Year Awards, both held in the Plaza Ballroom, don’t miss Australia’s premier taxation conference. Find out more.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Managed Investment Trusts – the industry perspective, a legal standpoint.

Managed Investment Trusts (MITs) are the investment vehicle of choice, supporting Australia’s $2.59 trillion funds management industry [1].

The proposed new tax regime for MITs, introduced into Parliament on 3 December 2015, is the third and most complex tranche of reforms affecting the taxation of MITs.

What follows is a short introduction to the paper Kos Dimitriou, CTA, and Vivian Chang, CTA are due to present at the Financial Services Conference being held on 17-19 February 2016.

The significance of these new measures should not be underestimated. The proposed law is complex and will fundamentally change the way qualifying Managed Investment Trusts (AMITs) and their investors are taxed. Favourable changes are also made to the Division 6C public trading trust (PTT) rules as well as repealing the Division 6B public unit trust (PUT) rules.

Specifically, the AMIT regime is intending to significantly simplify the administration of MITs, whilst at the same time providing certainty and creating additional functionality for MITs, thereby enabling the creation of new product opportunities, the minimisation of current operational risks and costs.

The introduction of the AMIT regime is welcomed by the industry and another small yet significant step in the Government’s commitment to secure Australia’s future as a leading financial services centre that will promote the greater export of Australia’s funds management expertise and enhance the competitiveness of Australia's funds management industry. As articulated in the Johnson report, such an aspirational status must be progressively achieved, as capital is increasingly becoming mobile, resulting in increased competition for foreign capital.

The development of this regime has been a success due to the close consultation and high level commitment between Treasury, ATO and industry through various changes in Government.

However, it should be noted that because the proposed law has been developed using the principles based approach to drafting, it will require on-going commitment and review by Treasury, the ATO and industry to ensure that we collectively:
  • avoid the repeat of the Division 6 uncertainty;
  • efficiently implement the regime;
  • work with ASIC to develop broad class order relief, in instances where changes to constitutions are required, to ensure we do not allow mere compliance, but rather the development of new products and simplification of the industry; and
  • ensure that the AMIT remains a stable regime, thereby ensuring the industry’s on-going growth, particularly in attracting foreign capital. 
In their presentation, Kos Dimitriou, CTA, and Vivian Chang, CTA will seek to:
  • Provide the background and context of the proposed AMIT regime; 
  • Articulate the key features of the proposed AMIT regime;
  • Outline practical implications that should be considered as fund managers, custodians, fund administrators and other service providers formulate an action plan to implement the AMIT regime; and
  • Explore product opportunities that may arise out of this new tax regime as Australia transitions into a services based economy, and seeks to gain the aspirational status as the financial services hub of the Asia Pacific region.
Kos Dimitriou, CTA, is a tax business partner at NAB, where he focuses on mergers and acquisitions, international tax and funds management. Kos has extensively advised NAB’s Asset Management business units, including Investment Committees, Trustee Boards and a range of industry bodies, on a range of investments, including property, infrastructure, global private equity and global fund of hedge funds.

Vivian Chang, CTA, is a tax partner at Ashurst (formerly known as Blake Dawson), where she focuses on the Australian and international tax aspects of corporate and financial services transactions, specialising in the areas of mergers, acquisition and reorganisations, financial products and funds management.

To to get up to speed with the new proposed regime, and many other leading topics, join us at the Financial Services Conference, 17-19 February 2016 at the Marriott Resort & Spa, 
Surfers Paradise.

[1] ABS 5655 – Managed Funds, Australia, September 2015, Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/11/2015

Tax transparency in Australia with Grant Wardell-Johnson

Grant Wardell-Johnson, CTA, is excited to be presenting at what he labels as ‘one of the most well-known and best attended tax conferences in Australia', the Financial Services Conference.

Grant is currently a Partner in the Australian Tax Centre at KPMG, which deals with new legislation, consultation, and thought leadership on tax policy. He has been in this position for nearly 3 years and thoroughly enjoy it. Prior to this he was a client service partner in a number of industries and particularly mergers and acquisitions.

Presenting on tax transparency in Australia in two parts, Grant will first be presenting on the conceptual and historical aspects to provoke views on transparency. The second part will deal with the main developments. As many developments domestically are flowing from what is happening internationally, he will also be working with Claudio Cimetta and Mark Konza who will follow this technical session to discuss the international scene.

Attendees of this session will gain an overview of transparency developments, but hopefully reflect on where taxation is heading on disclosures and what it may mean for their organisations or their position as advisers.

If you don’t want to miss out on this and many other great technical sessions, check out the brochure for the Financial Services Conference being held on 17-19 February 2016 in Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

'Be Consumed' at the Barossa Convention

As Australia evolves into a “smarter” economy, governments are looking to incentivise start-up ventures to support innovation. Taking advantage of available government incentives and having the right tax structures in place is critical to uncorking success for you and your clients within the SME space. The 2016 Barossa Convention is all about getting down and (tax) dirty on start-up ventures and private businesses, trusts and superannuation. Join us in the Barossa this May to learn more…

For almost 50 years, the Convention has been South Australia’s premier event for tax professionals. Drawing on the event’s rich history and tradition along with its unique location, from 2016 it will be known as the Barossa Convention. This year, in addition to a new name, we are excited to extend the invitation to our interstate members and are proud to showcase an impressive line-up of speakers against the idyllic backdrop of South Australia’s wine country to discuss start-ups, trusts, superannuation and everything in between.

Be consumed: food and wine and tax, oh my

From the surrounds of the Novotel Barossa Valley Resort and spectacular local cuisine through to the “Barossa – Be Consumed” gala dinner, on-site local produce market and world class golf course, this year’s event is
unashamedly Barossa-themed. Delegates are invited to arrange a round of golf or take a breathtaking “Tour de Tax” bike ride from Adelaide’s CBD to the convention venue. The journey ties in fittingly with the “Concept to Start-Up” journey that keynote speakers will take you on as you explore case studies and practical tax issues.

Get down and (tax) dirty on the uprise of start-ups

Start-ups, SMEs, private enterprises. These are here to stay.

The Turnbull government’s agenda to transform Australia into an agile and innovative ecosystem of nimble businesses is designed to help fuel investment and boost the economy into the future. Australia will only continue to see an upsurge in start-up ventures, new tax laws, tax considerations and traps. Does it scare you? Are you across the multifaceted issues that your clients will come knocking on your door for? What do they mean for your clients? 

Tim Sandow, CTA and other keynote speakers will unpack the tax and legal issues surrounding your clients’ evolving businesses on day two of the convention. The sessions are technical, practical and take you on a journey from concept to start-up to the initial phases of global expansion. Along the way, questions on your mind will be addressed. Here are but a few… 
  • How are start-ups structured in Australia and overseas? What are the implications and risks?
  • What are the available tax concessions?
  • How do you structure for tax incentives such as the R&D incentive and grants?
  • What are the IP issues – what is available, is your client investor-ready, how do you protect IP overseas and mitigate IP infringement?
  • How can I utilise the employee share scheme rules after recent changes – where can you find the advantages? 

A lot to consume on both days, but better to be fed with knowledge than left hungry!

In Trust we tax. Or was it in tax we….

Confusing? While the process of liquidating or deregistering a company is clear, the termination of a trust is much less certain and relies on an understanding of trust law and trust deeds. Day two of the convention will also consider these practical tax and stamp duty issues arising on the vesting of trust estates.

Michael Butler, CTA will address key issues that members who work in the complex area of trust law face: 
  • What is the process involved in voluntarily vesting a trust deed?
  • How do you deal with a position when the trust is about to vest, including the recent Rinehart dispute?
  • Can the vesting date be extended (possibly forever)?
  • What if the vesting date has already passed? Is it too late to take remedial action?  

Super Saturday!

The weekend of the Barossa Convention kicks on after our “Barossa – Be Consumed” gala dinner! Strong coffee in hand and not just for superannuation experts, delegates can choose to attend the Super Saturday morning sessions where Harry Patsias, CTA and Suzanne Mackenzie, CTA walk you through a tour of modern superannuation and how this will affect your clients.

With the government’s focus on tighter governance for superannuation in the coming year, these sessions will take a peek at emerging ideas, ranging from underutilised ideas to new and novel (and questionable!) ideas.

Whether a South Australian local or someone based interstate, we invite you to come along to this premier tax event in the beautiful Barossa. Be consumed, be connected, be armed with knowledge! See you there.

2016 Barossa Convention 5 – 7 May | Novotel Barossa Valley Resort, South Australia

If you’d like to attend the 2016 Barossa Convention in May, go here.

Video used with permission, SA Tourism.

Monday, 1 February 2016

2016 Property & Construction Tax Intensive

Always a 'must-attend' for practitioners advising the property and construction industry, the expansion of this year's Property & Construction Tax Intensive to one and a half days reflects the dynamism and continued importance of this sector.

Peter Glindemann, Senior Manager in EY's Private Client Services team, will co-chair the Intensive and here he tells us a little more about what to expect from the event in April.

Focussing on topical tax and commercial insights from leading figures in the tax profession, the Intensive is designed for experienced practitioners who work in - or have clients in - the property and construction industry.

The event offers a mixture of in-depth, technical, direct and indirect tax topics, together with updates from the regulators (i.e. the ATO and Qld Office of State Revenue) and industry insights, including economic trend analysis and "war stories" from an industry veteran.

We're pleased to count practitioners including Tim Lawless, Bob Sharpless, Ken Morrison and David Marks QC among many other the well-known speakers.  In his Keynote Address, Tim will provide an update on market activity and trends for the Queensland and Australian market generally, as well as touch on the broader macroeconomic issues that are affecting the property sector.

In the "Learning from the Legends" session we'll be welcoming Bob Sharpless, Deputy Chairman of Springfield Land Corporation, and developer of Australia's largest privately owned master planned community. Bob will share some of his insights, strategies and lessons learned around delivering a development project.

David Marks QC, CTA, features on a panel looking at recent developments in capital v revenue disputes. The session will canvas how recent cases provide guidance to the tax implications of different types of property development activity.

Aside from these and many other high profile speakers, the organising team feel the real strength of the Intensive lies in the diverse range of experience in tax and commercial issues impacting the industry that the event brings together.

What makes this event different to others is the unique opportunity, in a single event, to learn from not only tax advisers recognised for their depth of experience in the property and construction industry, but to also gain commercial insights from a leading market analyst, an industry veteran, and to hear direct from the regulators and industry bodies.

The broad range of tax (both direct and indirect) and commercial insights from speakers in professional practice, industry and regulators makes this an event that will be valuable to an equally broad range of delegates.

2016's Property & Construction Tax Intensive takes place on 12–13 April at the Brisbane Marriott Hotel. Find out more about the event here