Showing posts from August, 2012

3 great ways to meet your tax CPD obligations in August


With study period 2 about to commence, early enrolments are now open for study period 3 for our Course in Australian Taxation Law.

The Course in Australian Taxation Law qualification — achieved through the completion of the Certificate in Foundation Tax and Certificate in Applied Tax courses — provides your staff with the practical skills required to quickly pick up and apply Australian tax law concepts in the workplace, making them an asset to your firm sooner.

Early bird enrolments for both courses close on 9 October 2012. Visit our website for more information.

Continuing professional development

All tax professionals need to keep informed about the changing landscape of tax. The listings below are just a small sample of the more than 350 CPD events that the Institute runs each year.

Various dates in August — 2012 Trusts Roadshow (face-to-face and online)29 August — Monthly online tax and topic updateVarious dates in September — 2012 CGT Roadshow (face-to-face and online)

A sorry saga of retrospectivity

Recently, both the Senate and House Parliamentary Economics Committees reported with respect to their inquiries into the Transfer Pricing and Living Away From Home Allowance changes respectively.

Members may recall that The Tax Institute appeared before these Committees in order to express our strongly-held concerns.

With regards to the LAFHA changes, the House Committee recommendations essentially resulted in the legislation being sent back to the drawing board. Our arguments that the tax treatment of LAFHA should be determined either in the context of the income tax laws, or the FBT laws, but not both (as was proposed by the Bill) was accepted by the Committee.

They also recommended clarification around the circumstances in which transitional relief would still be provided as we had suggested.

In recent days the Government has amended the legislation to take account of the Committee's concerns and the Bill has now passed the Lower House.

On Transfer Pricing, the Senate Committee…

The psychology of voluntary compliance

I have mentioned before in this column that one of the privileges and pleasures of being national president is the opportunity to attend national and state conventions. This month, it has been the State Taxes Conference in Perth. The State Revenue Offices give their unstinting support to this conference and The Tax Institute is extremely grateful for that support.

One of the papers this year, presented by Jim Richards from the Northern Territory Revenue Office, was about the psychology of voluntary compliance and how revenue authorities internationally are going about altering the mindset of populations so that compliance is seen as the norm.

It was not about the usual approach of "the carrot and the stick", but a study of approaches that focus on convincing taxpayers that compliance is business as usual. A key message was that revenue authorities should regularly acknowledge that the great majority are doing the right thing. This encourages people to accept that compliance …

To company tax or not to company tax?

Last week saw the release of the much anticipated options paper of the Government's Business Tax Working Group. The paper discusses the benefits of reducing the company tax rate and suggests 23 options to pay for it. These would broaden the business tax base, by reducing or removing various tax concessions; the three categories identified are: interest deductibility (including thin capitalisation), depreciating assets and capital expenditure (including capped effective lives), and the R&D tax incentive for turnovers in excess of $20 million.

So the question in some ways becomes: to company tax or not to company tax?

The Government's ground rules are clear: some business tax breaks will have to go if we are to reduce the company tax rate. This means some hard questions will need to be debated and answered. One of the most important is: how badly do we actually want a company tax cut?

A cut in Australia's company tax rate will deliver economy-wide benefits that are neces…

Social media for tax professionals

Social media is changing how we communicate. Want some hints and tips on how you can use social networks to enhance your business and your professional development? Read on.

What is social media?

Social media is an umbrella term that encompasses any media, generally online, that facilitates social networking – the interaction and sharing of content and user experiences.

You’ve probably heard of things like blogs, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And chances are you’re like 62% of Australians1 and are using these networks, probably on a daily basis. But did you know that social media can be used to enhance your career and even your professional practice?

How can it benefit my career?

By building an online presence using social media, you can raise your professional profile. Social media, like other forms of networking, is a valuable way to build your connections and reputation within your industry. By expanding your network, you will open yourself up to new career and business opportuniti…

Prize winners and what’s on in August

Tax rates table 2012-13

In this month’s journal, you’ll find your free copy of the Institute’s handy desktop tax rates table — an indispensable aid for access to the most commonly used tax rates at your fingertips, including the Medicare levy, tax offsets, superannuation, eligible termination payments, FBT, CPI indexes, and more.

What’s on in August

Also available is our new "what's on" guide. Designed to keep you up to date with what’s happening at The Tax Institute, it will ensure that you don’t miss any key events, enrolment dates or product offers.

Join the conversation

Social media is about connecting people and sharing information, and is quickly changing how The Tax Institute communicates with its members. Keep an eye on our blog over the coming months if you are new to social media or want some hints and tips on how you can use social networks to enhance your business and your professional development.

To get started, and to stay in touch with all the latest tax ne…

Improving access to company losses

On 18 July the Assistant Treasurer released a discussion paper on "Improving access to company losses", which is the loss carry-back measure announced just prior to the Budget this year.

While most of the details in the paper were expected, the inclusion of a proposed integrity measure akin to the current Continuity of Ownership and Same Business Tests was surprising. The Tax Institute advocated strongly in our submissions to the Business Tax Reform Working Group for these tests to be simplified if they are going to continue to be relevant.

Our submission on the 18 July discussion paper was lodged on 6 August. In it we say that we are broadly supportive of the Government's announced policy intention to introduce a limited loss-carry back.

As we have noted previously, in our view a limited loss carry-back is a positive step towards helping substantial numbers of businesses face increasingly uncertain conditions.

Nevertheless, we are concerned by the proposals in relation t…

Two minutes with Gil Levy, CTA (Life)

Gil, can you give us a quick career snapshot?

After leaving school in 1964 I spent two and a half years as an audit clerk/delivery boy at the then Wilson Bishop Bowes and Craig. A potential doubling in salary plus five hours a week off to study induced me to the Taxation Office for six and a half years where I finished my Commerce Degree at UNSW.

A desire to travel followed and as the ATO had cancelled leave of absence I resigned to rejoin my old firm to head note Tax Cases for Butterworth’s under Ted Mannix and Don Harris.

Following a merger of the Sydney office of the firm with PWC I was offered a partnership to stay and help re-start the firm in 1976. In 1980 the firm merged with GT Hartigan to become PKF and in 1992 the Sydney office of PKF merged with Arthur Andersen.

Arthur Andersen encouraged me to become more involved with The Tax Institute, affording me the opportunity and privilege to become president in 2003. Through my involvement with The Tax Institute I became involved w…

Evasion – who should bear the “burden of proof”?

Evasion is a matter of great concern in our tax system and the Commissioner of Taxation is given exceptional powers to detect and deal with those who choose to evade their social responsibilities. In the main, the Commissioner uses his great powers wisely. However, in my long experience as a legal practitioner working in the SME area, recently, there has been a growing tendency to conduct audits spanning many years. The most egregious example I have experienced is 23 years.

Beyond the four-year period (or two-year period for small business taxpayers), an amendment is only possible if the Commissioner forms the opinion that there has been fraud or evasion. Recently, the Commissioner seems more ready to form that opinion based on suspicion rather than fact. The burden of demonstrating that the assessments are incorrect and what is the correct assessment is then cast on the taxpayer.

My main complaint here is that often the problem of discharging this burden depends on the production of …

Trust tax reform…from 2014

After months of silence from the Government on a revised timeline for the trust tax reform project, last week tax practitioners received confirmation that indeed the project is on track, albeit with a July 2014 proposed commencement date for the new law.

Members will recall that The Tax Institute has been very active in ensuring the Government's commitment to reform the trust tax laws remains. It is a fundamentally important area of the law and one that consistently rates as a top reform priority for tax professionals. The reform must transform this critical area of taxation into a 21st Century version of the law.

We will continue to consult widely on the proposed reforms throughout the life of the project and welcome members' input.

Please feel free to contact us at Tax Policy.

Robert Jeremenko is Senior Tax Counsel of The Tax Institute.

The Tax Institute is Australia’s leading professional association in tax. Its 13,000 members include tax agents, accountants and lawyers as we…

Two minutes with Moira Merrick, CTA

Moira, can you give us a quick career snapshot?

I began my career in tax in 1998 when I joined a second tier firm’s tax division. I moved to Deloitte in September 2007, spent 12 months in corporate tax and then transferred to the National Tax Technical Group in 2008.

You will be presenting on "Extracting Value" at the upcoming 20th National Tax Intensive Retreat. What are some of the things delegates can expect to take away from your presentation?

I hope that delegates will come away from my session with:

an understanding of how they should navigate their way around the current landscape for earn-out arrangementsa practical insight into the typical tax issues that should be considered when using a share buyback as part of a restructure anda good grasp on what has been happening around company dividends over the last 12 months.
What brings you back to Noosa year after year?

Noosa is simply beautiful. The tax intensive has a workshop focus (where numbers are limited), so the foru…