Showing posts from July, 2014

Update on the Winter Sitting of Federal Parliament and the MRRT

The Winter Sitting of Federal Parliament ended last week and despite the winter chill in Canberra, the debate about the repeal of the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) was red hot. Caught up in this debate are the tax concessions and other social security measures that were to be funded by the MRRT. These include changes to the capital allowances for small business entities, the loss carry-back regime for companies, the payment of a superannuation co-contribution to low income individuals, the increase to the superannuation guarantee rate and the Schoolkids Bonus.

The Government made an election commitment to repeal the MRRT and its related measures and it is sticking to its guns. The end of the Winter Sitting period curtailed round two of trying to get the MRRT and its related measures repealed to no avail. There were a number of attempts made in the Senate to maintain some of the associated measures that were to be funded by the MRRT. For now, there is no clear answer on what measure…

National events and upcoming course intakes

Start planning for your CPD requirements early

We host a number of flagship events throughout the year to help our members stay up-to-date on industry news and to help them earn their CPD requirements. In mid-August we will be running our National Superannuation Conference in Melbourne. This conference has been designed for tax professionals from both the large fund and self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) sectors. The event will feature speakers from the legal, accounting, audit and financial advisory services fields of the superannuation industry to discuss current challenges and opportunities.

In September we will be hosting our 2014 National GST Intensive in Sydney. This year’s intensive will feature the latest in GST issues, while also providing you the opportunity to network with colleagues and fellow GST enthusiasts.

For further information on both of these flagship events, including the program and how to register, visit us online at

Dispute resolution with the ATO

The Tax Office’s handling of dispute resolution is receiving significant focus at present. Both the House of Representatives Tax and Revenue Committee and the Inspector-General of Taxation are conducting inquiries into the matter.

As reported to us by members, over the past 18 months, we have noticed genuine and significant improvements in the way that tax disputes are handled by the ATO.

However, there remains room for improvement in a number of areas, including:
Engagement and cooperation at review and audit stage;Flexibility in internal ATO timeframes, in particular to avoid the unnecessary escalation or progression of a matter that may otherwise have been resolved or limited;Opportunities for early engagement and resolution outside of the large business and high wealth individual areas;Technical expertise within the ATO; andIndependence at objection and independent review stages.Structural change to the way that objections, reviews and litigation are managed within the ATO may be co…

June's free member tax presentations

Here’s a selection of presentations from our leading events series from June.
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 $15 each.
Testamentary trusts – Taxation of receipts and distributions presentation(Michael Flynn, CTA, Rob Jeremiah, CTA, and Graeme White, CTA)SMSFs & property presentation (Con Gotsis, CTA)All about contributions presentation (Jemma Sanderson, CTA) Removal of the “accountants’ exemption” - The way forward presentation (Mark Halsey and Fiona Halsey, FTI ) Death of a member presentation (Ron Doig, FTI ) Insurance what you need to know presentation(Naz Randeria) Superannuation regulatory update presentation(Greg Bentley, CTA) Contribution update presentation

Project DO IT

I would like to remind members of the ATO’s offshore income voluntary disclosure initiative, Project DO IT, which the Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan, AO launched at our national convention earlier this year. It has been approximately three-and-a-half months since the initiative was launched and it is due to expire at the end of the year.

We at the Institute supported the initiative at the time of the launch as it reflected a pragmatic approach to encouraging taxpayers to return revenue that is currently outside the tax system. For taxpayers, it provides an opportunity to bring funds onshore in the shadow of increasing international cooperation on exchange of information.

There have been a number of other offshore income voluntary disclosure initiatives in the past but this initiative contains some unique features: the ATO won’t go back beyond the standard amendment period, which is usually four years; and it may also agree not to tax taxpayers on the winding-up of their offshor…

Launch of a new course, membership renewals and an updated SMSF Guide

Announcing our new course: Tax for Financial Advising

The Tax Institute’s education offerings continue to grow with the launch of our new Tax for Financial Advising course. From 1 July 2014, the Tax Agents Services Act 2009 (Cth) (TASA) brings financial planners and advisers into the fold by requiring advisers who provide tax advice, during the provision of financial advice, to register as a tax (financial) adviser. Our new course provides candidates with an opportunity to better service their clients with a solid grounding in ascertaining and advising clients on their tax affairs and to meet competence requirements under the TASA and Code of Professional Conduct. The course delivers content on entities, superannuation, CGT and tax concepts, as well as the online course in the Code of Professional Conduct. By undertaking the course, notifying tax (financial) advisers will meet the 20 hours of tax-relevant CPD requirements which apply from 1 July 2014. For more information, visit taxinstit…

Registration requirements for tax (financial) advisers

As I mentioned in last week's TaxVine, the Government has released draft regulations outlining the proposed registration requirements under the Tax Agent Services regime for financial advisers giving tax advice.

This week The Tax Institute finalised our submission to Treasury on the proposed regulations, expressing our deep concerns with respect to the proposed education and experience requirements for financial advisers who gain registration by joining a recognised financial adviser professional association.

The draft regulations fail to create an adequate framework that includes appropriately stringent tax and commercial law education requirements for financial advisers giving tax advice. This outcome is of grave concern, as it risks undermining the fundamental principle of the Tax Agent Services regime, which is to protect consumers of tax advice.

We recommend that the draft regulations are changed to require financial advisers giving tax advice to complete both a course in Austra…

Proposed changes to ATO IT systems

As the winds of change continue to blow through the ATO, the Institute is closely monitoring two new ATO initiatives. The two initiatives are its technology transformation project discussed at the decent Drivers for Change Conference and Project DO IT.

Drivers for change – new business tax return and reporting requirements

The first project is particularly important for any practitioner who lodges tax returns for businesses. It involves the end of the current electronic lodgement service (ELS) arrangements and will require practitioners to ensure that their clients’ charts of accounts comply with a standard format. The ATO explained the proposed changes at its National Tax Practitioner Drivers for Change Conference held on 17-18 June 2014 in Sydney, which our tax policy team attended. The conference focused on what might change in the next decade for tax practitioners, having regard to rapid technological advances and globalisation. A key initiative the ATO discussed at the conference …

Proposed registration requirements under TASR for financial advisers giving tax advice

As members are all too aware, tax is an inherently complex discipline. As High Court Justice Patrick Keane (as Chief Justice of the Federal Court at the time) described it: ‘opening the Tax Act is like opening the door to a parallel universe’. Consumer protection is one of the key objectives of the Tax Agent Services Regime (TASR) of 2010. The regime aims to ensure that those people who attempt to navigate their way through this tax universe have the appropriate professional and ethical standards as well as the educational qualifications and experience to make the journey safely. This is particularly important for those people relying on the complex navigation required: consumers of tax advice.

The Government has now released draft regulations outlining the proposed registration requirements under TASR for financial advisers giving tax advice. It is extremely disappointing that consumer protection is not foremost in the Government's mind in subjecting financial advisers to TASR. I…