Effectively managing tax disputes: what's your strategy? – The 2017 Queensland Tax Forum

David Marks, QC
The Queensland Tax Forum returns in 2017 at a time when all we can be certain of is change. 

With so much in flux, disputes are inevitable. So what practical steps can you take to ensure that your clients are best prepared for success?

On day two of the Forum, David W Marks QC CTA, and Fletch Heinemann CTA, will together present on the subject of ‘Effectively managing tax disputes – What is your strategy?’ 

Fletch is a partner in Cooper Grace Ward Lawyers’ commercial team, providing advice across a range of commercial issues, and is responsible for managing a significant volume of tax and customs disputes. David is a commercial Silk practising principally in tax, with a broader practice in commercial litigation, trusts and estates, and administrative law.

We spoke with David about what to expect from their session.

Clients will, of course, have differing views on what a 'successful' outcome looks like. However, generally speaking, success can be measured in terms of costs (professional costs and/or tax and penalty costs) and in terms of disruption to their business. Reducing these costs and potential disruption levels will be foremost in a client’s mind, so an adviser needs to take steps to maximise the prospects of success from the outset. 

David told us: “The ground rules are changing. The ATO has made formal changes, but we are also noticing local trends in how matters are approached.”

In some cases, the adviser is inevitably drawn into reacting to the steps taken by the ATO. But, as with all things, preparation is key. David and Fletch's session will look at the steps to take before the ATO comes knocking. It also covers the steps to take to ensure the best chance of an early resolution, including when voluntarily disclosures should be made, and what cases can settle and how you prepare for a settlement. Finally, it looks at some of the issues that are often missed.

David hopes that “delegates will leave with an up-to-date understanding of the ATO’s approach to dispute resolution, that will help advisers maximise their chances of avoiding a prolonged dispute”. 

He also notes that “the sessions looking at international issues are now very relevant for every practitioner”. 

These will include PwC's Peter Dunn presenting the 'International issues' session, which will provide a practical overview of the issues that can arise due to the changing nature of both international business and international tax. Also, in the Corporate stream, Sarah Blakelock CTA (KPMG Law) will look at ‘Resolving tax disputes in a global environment’.

Another highlight will be the keynote address from Andrew Mills CTA (Life), Second Commissioner, ATO, on ‘The tax administration continuum – The law was made for man, not man for the law’. Andrew will outline the Commissioner’s approach to tax administration in a changing environment, 

Also, a presentation by Joanne Casburn (ATO) and Tom Rengers CTA (ATO) on ‘Achieving certainty’ will look at the ATO’s perspective on how different types of risks and issues can be managed.

The 2017 Queensland Tax Forum takes place on 24-25 August 2017 at the Brisbane Marriott Hotel. 

You can find out more about these sessions and the rest of the program on our website.

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