The GST two decades on – 2018 National GST Intensive

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Howard government’s election campaign for A New Tax System.

Two decades on, how does Australia’s GST regime measure up? And what are the challenges confronting the GST as we contend with increasing globalisation and technological disruption?

The Tax Institute’s 2018 National GST Intensive in Sydney promises to provide an engaging setting for GST professionals to consider these important questions. In this post we highlight some of the key issues to be covered at the event.

The interaction of Australian GST and global trade has been a subject of intense scrutiny with the recent extension of the GST to low-value imported consumer goods, as well as services and digital products. 

Already, the world’s biggest online retailer, Amazon, has resisted Australia’s vendor collection model with its decision to stop shipping to Australian customers from its overseas platforms, citing the impracticality of GST collection. At the same time, Australia has reformed business-to-business measures to remove some overseas suppliers from the scope of the GST regime, but with potentially new consequences under the reverse-charge rules.

This year’s keynote address will be delivered by one of the UK and Australia’s most distinguished revenue practitioners, Roderick Cordara, QC/SC, who will discuss the place of Australian GST in a world setting. 

International ramifications for our local tax

In his address, Roderick will analyse various cross-border controversies of the Australian GST in the context of global tax movements. He will also discuss what the UK can learn from Australia as it “brexits” to VAT independence.

Roderick is an international grandmaster of indirect tax, with an extremely busy tax commercial practice pursued in the UK, across Europe and also in Australia. In Europe, he appears on VAT and related matters in all courts, including the Supreme Court (previously the House of Lords) and European Court of Justice. In Australia, Roderick has practised in GST matters right from the very beginning and has been involved in a number of important GST cases. 



We are also delighted to welcome one of Australia’s most experienced GST policy and design experts, Michael Evans, CTA, to offer a critical assessment of today’s GST regime.

Twenty years on, is the GST still adequate and efficient as a revenue-raising tool? 

Michael will consider a number of recent, important reforms to the GST base and ask whether these have been designed to address a loss of revenue through fraud and evasion, or whether these constitute an expansion of the base. This will lead us to the question: is there a hole in the bucket, or is the bucket smaller than we anticipated? Do we need a new and better bucket?

Michael will also discuss contemporary challenges to the GST system, and examine whether the Uber decision and issues around cryptocurrencies show that the VAT model is challenged by a disruptive economy. 

Michael is a tax consultant and Senior Fellow of The University of Melbourne. Throughout his career, which includes over 20 years as a partner at KPMG and 17 years with the ATO, Michael has been a contributor to the design and drafting of the GST in Australia and New Zealand.

Important ATO insights

Jeremy Geale, CTA, Deputy Chief Tax Counsel at the ATO will present the case for why the GST law still supports a commitment to principles-based drafting. A principles-based approach to tax law design uses principles to convey the outcomes that the legislation is intended to achieve. This is in contrast to a prescriptive (or “black-letter”) approach, which is more concerned with specific technical rules. The Australian Government has previously committed to adopting a principles-based approach in many areas of legislative reform. Proponents of the approach argue that it ultimately achieves greater certainty and flexibility, while reducing the complexity that has traditionally plagued tax legislation.

Jeremy will discuss the road to principles-based drafting in Australia and its relationship to the GST law, including the reception this approach has received and its track record in GST litigation cases. He will outline what happens when a more “prescriptive” approach is taken to solving GST problems as well as the future of the principles-based approach.

In his role as Deputy Chief Tax Counsel, Jeremy provides technical and strategic tax advice within the ATO and to the community through the ATO’s Tax Counsel Network. He was previously a partner of a large legal and accounting firm and also worked for a number of years as a barrister specialising in all areas of tax.

Tim Dyce, ATO Deputy Commissioner of Indirect Tax will also update attendees on the most topical matters affecting practitioners and the ATO. Tim has national responsibility for the ATO’s administration of the GST. He has management responsibility for approximately 1,300 ATO staff who deal directly with GST, excise, luxury car tax, wine equalisation tax and a range of other taxes across areas of client advice, technical advice and compliance programs for all segments of the business sector.

Join us in Sydney

The 2018 National GST Intensive promises to provide an engaging setting for GST professionals to consider the important questions facing practitioners and their clients. As always, we have an array of high-calibre speakers from private practice and the ATO who will guide attendees through the critical in-depth technical topics and explore the latest thinking on topical GST issues.

This exciting GST intensive featuring more than 20 expert presenters will be held 13–14 September 2018 at the InterContinental Sydney.

Delegates will attend 10 plenary sessions over two days. Additionally, day one concludes with a choice from three concurrent sessions: property issues coast to coast; sharing economy; and current GST issues in financial services – areas of ATO focus. These in-depth panel sessions will provide the opportunity to explore specific applications and interpretations of the GST via worked case studies, and gain a practical understanding of potential outcomes. The sessions are repeated later in the afternoon, allowing delegates to attend two of the three sessions.

A cocktail party at the conclusion of day one, closing conference drinks and regular conference breaks will provide ample opportunities to network with other delegates.

For more information, and to register, visit our website.

Popular posts from this blog

How the tax profession can stay relevant

Navigating the digital landscape: a plan for today's tax professional – 2017 SME Symposium

Taxing earnings – the great distortion