Branch Attribution for Banks


The complex nature of Branch Attribution can cause confusion amongst taxpayers. Appropriate due diligence and an understanding of the ATO’s legal and administrative approach to branch attribution can help taxpayers avoid unwanted attention from the ATO.

In his session ‘Branch Attributes for Banks’ at the upcoming 2019 Financial Services Taxation Conference, James Campbell (Executive Director, ATO) will focus on the issues around Branch Attributes and provide valuable insights into how the ATO deal with branch attributions and the areas they focus on.

We spoke to James about what to expect from his session.

Expanding on what’s covered in the program, what can attendees expect to learn from your session?
“Delegates will receive detailed insight into the topic of branch attribution through the lens of the ATO, and in particular, on specific areas of interest including income, expenses and deductibility of funding costs. We will also provide insight into branch attribution from learnings obtained in the Tax Avoidance Taskforce from Top 100 and Top 1000 cases completed to date.”

What are the blind spots in this area of practice?
“There can be a lot of confusion as to what practices are acceptable to the ATO. Confusion can arise when considering the differences between outcomes that are acceptable from a compliance perspective vs what is acceptable according to a black letter of the law interpretation.”


“We’ll be covering some key historical cases that illustrate the Australian legal position on important principles relevant to branch attribution, these cases are referenced in ATO IDs 2012/90, 91 & 92. However we won’t be covering recent cases or legislative developments as the presentation is meant to be highlighting the debate around whether Australia should look to amend the legislation to adopt the authorised OECD approach into our legislation.”

What will delegates take away from your session that will help their clients and/or business?
“Delegates will come away with a better understanding of the key tax decisions in the area of branch attribution. They will gain some deeper insights into what taxpayers should focus on to ensure they have undertaken appropriate due diligence in preparing branch tax returns. The session will also highlight some red flags they should be aware of with branch attribution which can draw the attention of the ATO. “

James has worked for the ATO for 17 years specialising in income tax related matters within the banking and finance industry. He is currently an Executive Director within the Public Groups business line in the ATO leading the business line’s work program and strategy pursuant to the banking industry.

James' session will consider current issues for both inbound and outbound banks, including a discussion on areas of ATO focus. Issues addressed will include an overview of the general fact patterns for both outbound and inbound banks, areas of focus for the ATO, insight and trends from the ATO from the Top 100 and Top 1,000 program, ATO legal and administrative approach to branch attribution and more.

His areas of expertise include capital management and hybrid financing, offshore banking units (OBUs), branch attribution, controlled foreign corporations (CFCs), Part IIIB and thin capitalisation. James is currently playing a leading role in the delivery of the ATO’s Top 100 and Top 1,000 program in relation to the banking and finance industry.

The 2019 Financial Services Taxation Conference takes place on 6-8 February at the Gold Coast. The program includes seven sessions across the day showcasing Australia’s most influential leaders offering their insights and sharing their experiences.

Find out more about the session and the rest of the program on our website.

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