Showing posts from August, 2013

The words no one wants to hear: “tax reform”

"It's sad, so sad; it's a sad, sad situation; and it's getting more and more absurd..." Elton John’s timeless lyrics could well be applied to the lack of real tax reform plans in Australia today.

As part of the president’s role and as part of The Tax Institute’s advocacy, I have met with a number of politicians and their advisers on various tax changes. On every occasion, I have used the opportunity to raise the issue of "tax reform".

These must be the dirtiest words in politics. I can understand why. They mean that someone has to give up "something" on the promise of a theoretical "something else". This involves a feeling of impending loss and grief, maybe even triggering the memory of a previous change that failed to meet expectations.

It’s time to remember that our political leaders are there to represent the community, their shareholders, and to put the interest of the shareholders ahead of their own.

Tax reform is not new. Ken H…

The Tax Specialist – download free highlights from 2013

Download a copy of these five free articles from The Tax Specialist.

These popular articles from 2013 include:

Garnishee notices: FCT v Park - Dr Philip BenderThe life estate and testamentary discretionary trust in modern wills - Emma Munro and Kevin Munro, CTAActual v deemed - the edge of reality - Dr Damien Lockie, CTA-LifeCapital management of financial institutions and the related tax issues - Julian Pinson, Tricia Ho-Hudson and Anthony Frost, CTAChanging perpetuity periods and vesting dates - David Marks, CTA
Download the articles [PDF], and subscribe to The Tax Specialist on our website today.

Australia’s leading journal for corporate tax professionals, The Tax Specialist features in-depth commentary from the profession’s leaders.

The Tax Institute is Australia’s leading professional association in tax. Its 13,000 members include tax agents, accountants and lawyers as well as tax practitioners in corporations, government and academia.

2013 Tax Time Issues

Tax Time 2013

As members would be aware, Tax Time 2013 is now well underway. For the most part, the systems seem to be functioning well from both the perspective of tax practitioners and the ATO.

Members should note that The Tax Institute meets regularly with the ATO to discuss any issues that have arisen during this very busy time for tax agents and taxpayers alike. Consequently, any concerns members may have will be brought to the attention of the people who can assist to resolve these issues. We also regularly report the latest issues so that members are aware of them - the details of the latest Tax Time 2013 issues can be found in the TaxVine newsletter.

Members are always encouraged to report to us their experiences (positive or negative) with issues relating to Tax Time 2013, even if they just seem like small hiccups, as reporting the issues and having them addressed quickly will help everyone relying on essential systems, such as the Portal, during this time. If there is somethin…

Voices from history: Sharyn Long CTA

Sharyn Long, CTA, Managing Partner, Sharyn Long Chartered Accountants

Sharyn Long is a Chartered Tax Adviser, and has been a member of the Institute for 27 years. A long-time presenter and volunteer at Tax Institute events, we sat down with Sharyn at the Perth national convention to talk about her memories of The Tax Institute.

What have some of the highlights of your time as a member been?

The first time I presented at the national convention in Melbourne years ago, it was the most people I had ever spoken to.

The launch of the education program that allows candidates to achieve their qualifications in tax — this was a great initiative and we have put a number of our staff through the program, with great results.

I’ve gained a number of long-standing loyal clients from my involvement with the Institute.

How has the Institute helped shaped the profession over the years?

I specialise in superannuation and, while this is now a mainstream area for many accounting firms, that hasn’t always …

GST just ammunition in slanging match

There has been a lot of political sparring over the GST in the last week and most of it has been part of a tried and true scare campaign.

It is disappointing to see such a fundamental component of our tax system reduced to ammunition in a political slanging match.

The Tax Institute has long called for a mature debate on our future tax system - a debate that must include the $50 billion per year GST. This has also featured as a high priority in our recent member survey of election priorities, particularly the reform of State taxes supported by increased funding from the GST. It is clear that tax professionals want the Government to take a leadership position on State tax reform, which includes increasing reliance on the GST and abolishing inefficient and complicated State taxes, such as conveyance duties and insurance duties.

The Federal Coalition’s proposed tax policy white paper has the potential to soon mark the beginning of a mature political debate on the role of the GST in our tax…

Update your CPD calendar

Upcoming events

In addition to the CPD events held every week in each state, there are a number of flagship events coming up in August — if you’re not already registered, visit our website for more information so that you don’t miss out. Some events allow you to earn more than 10 structured CPD hours in one go:

WA State Convention, 22 to 23 August, Perth;National Superannuation Conference, 29 to 30 August, Sydney; and2013 National GST Intensive, 5 to 6 September, Melbourne.
Accounting for common tax transactions

Our popular new series of practical workshop events were recently held in locations around the country. If you missed a session, you can now catch up online, with each workshop running as a webinar throughout August and September.

CTA1 Foundations intensive option

Our intensive study format for the CTA1 Foundations introductory tax course has proved popular with up-and-coming tax professionals who are looking to gain the Course in Australian Taxation Law qualification.

What’s the…

Company tax rate reduction & more on the self-education expenses cap

Self-education expenses cap

Last Friday, the Federal Government's Economic Statement contained the decision to defer the start date of the self-education expenses cap to 1 July 2015 to allow for further consultation.

The Government has demonstrated that it is starting to listen to community concern by announcing this delay. It is a welcome first small step in the right direction in the Government's handling of this policy measure.

At the same time, the Government has acknowledged the need to minimise the potential impact of this measure on genuine continuing professional development and other education needs.

The Tax Institute has been deeply concerned for some time now by the intention of the Government to use such a blunt policy instrument to target certain perceived excessive claims since the measure was first announced in April this year.

It has been especially concerning as there are potentially much more suitable alternatives, such as tightening the Tax Office's admin…

The Tax Institute in the 1960s

Celebrating 70 years of supporting the tax profession: 1960s

Last month, we related the founding of The Tax Institute in a special anniversary edition of Taxation in Australia. This month, we look at the Institute’s history during the booming 1950s and 1960s, as it begins to take the shape of the organisation we know today.


As the 1960s began, the Liberal Party remained in government and made few changes to the tax system. Decimal currency was introduced in 1966 and the economy continued to boom, with the mining sector growing from the lifting of restrictions on iron ore exports.

Institute membership also continued to grow, reaching 2,000 members part way through the decade, and the first state conventions were held around the country.

The 1960s also marked the birth of Taxation in Australia, with the journal replacing traditional circulars and memorandums in September 1963. By the end of the decade, the journal was at 32 pages and featured news, reports of changes in tax legislat…

The Tax Institute in the 1950s

Celebrating 70 years of supporting the tax profession: 1950s

Last month, we related the founding of The Tax Institute in a special anniversary edition of Taxation in Australia. This month, we look at the Institute’s history during the booming 1950s and 1960s, as it begins to take the shape of the organisation we know today.


After a long period of depression and war, the 1950s marked the beginning of a period of economic strength. In Australia, the government and the country’s tax landscape were largely stable and there were low levels of unemployment.

Things were looking up, and Australia was beginning to make an appearance on the world stage with a wave of European migration, the Queen’s visit in 1954, and the Olympics held in Melbourne in 1956.

The Tax Institute was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee in the Australian Capital Territory on 15 July 1952, and by 1953, membership had grown to a respectable 1,275. The first membership committee was formed in 1953, along wi…

July’s free member tax presentations

Here’s a selection of presentations from our leading events series.

Members of The Tax Institute can access these presentations for free by clicking the links below (make sure you’re logged in to our website first). Non-members can purchase the presentations for only $12 each.

Many presentations have a related technical paper, which can also be found on the presentation’s page.

Part IVA issues for SMEs (Graeme Cooper, CTA)Payroll tax harmonisation - A practitioner's perspective (Glynn Flaherty, CTA)Takeover of listed landholders - managing the duty implications (Peter Mcmahon, CTA)State taxes update (Lee Jurga)Superannuation presentation (Ian Burgess, CTA)Tax in tough times (Muhunthan Kanagaratnam, CTA)Division 7A and complex structures (Arthur Athanasiou, CTA)Asset protection (Brian J Richards, CTA)Practical GST solutions presentation (Damian Welshe, CTA)The year in review  (Tom Delany, CTA and Mark Molesworth, CTA)Executors' duties (Patrick Coyle)GST and the alcohol industry …

#ScrapTheCap and the taxing of trusts

Modernising the taxation of trusts

The Tax Institute continues to be at the forefront of advocating for reform of the rules governing the taxation of trust income. For many members who struggle daily with the complexities of the current laws, modernisation of the tax laws affecting trusts would be welcome.

The Tax Institute has been working hard over the years to advocate for trust tax reform and to ensure that the reform project does not stall. With the Government’s most recent focus being on certain trust tax integrity measures, we have been part of the conversations and have made a further submission to the Government. This submission has also re-emphasised the importance of holistic reform of Division 6.

Capping of self-education expenses

The groundswell of concern about the Government’s intention to impose a $2,000 cap on self-education expenses continues to gain momentum. This week The Tax Institute, and other members of the #ScrapTheCap alliance, met with advisers to the Treasurer…

Announcing the winners of the membership renewal competition

This month, we announce the winners of the early bird renewal competition.

Congratulations to our membership renewal early bird winners

Congratulations to Ms Bee Lim, FTI, Ms Lauren Moses, Mr Michael Briffa, ATI, Mr Mario Pleno, ATI, and Ms Elizabeth Goodwin, CTA, for winning a $1,000 each in Day to Day accounts with HSBC Bank Australia just for renewing their membership online.

Thanks to all members who entered, and to our business alliance partner HSBC for the generous prizes.
In the event that you have overlooked your membership renewal, we have extended your benefits to date. Please renew your membership by Friday 16 August to maintain your exclusive membership benefits.

New student and graduate careers resources

Know any students or recent graduates considering a career in tax? Let them know about The Tax Institute’s new blog at and Facebook page at

Voices from history

This month, we continue our 70th anniversary celebr…