Showing posts from May, 2015

Press Release: The Tax Institute urges financial planners to check compliance after unregistered tax agents fall foul of the law

Australia’s leading educator and association of tax professionals, The Tax Institute, has warned tax agents and financial planners to ensure they have complied fully with registration requirements are after an unregistered Canberra-based tax agent and his company was ordered to pay $900,000 in fines.

The Federal Court of Australia has imposed the largest penalty to date for breaches of the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA). Mr Kolya and his company, HP Kolya Pty Ltd, were ordered to pay $150,000 and $750,000 respectively, alongside an injunction that prevents both parties from providing or advertising tax agent or BAS services for the next 10 years.

Chief Executive Officer for The Tax Institute, Noel Rowland, said the judgement and scale of penalty imposed was indicative of the importance of completing the education requirements set out under the legislation.

In the May judgement, the Court found that the actions undertaken by Mr Kolya and his company in preparing, amending and lodgi…

The busy world of tax

They say there is no rest for the wicked. I'm not sure about that. What I am sure of is that there is no rest in the constantly spinning world of tax, whichever way the axis is tilting.

This week, The Tax Institute lodged its submission on the exposure draft legislation making changes to restore integrity into the consolidation regime. Our submission is available here.

We also lodged our submission on the exposure draft providing look-through CGT treatment to earn out arrangements, one of our bigger concerns here being in relation to the narrow application of the treatment. Our submission is available here.

For members who work with non-profit organisations, it is worth noting that there is an apparent trend for the States and Territories to look to review the concessions they provide to charities and non-profit organisations. Western Australia has recently passed legislation to tighten the availability of concessions. The Northern Territory has introduced a Bill to do the same. T…

Five early career milestones to hit

It’s never too early to start identifying or striving to reach career milestones. Here are five classic career goals you should aim to achieve during your first few years as a graduate.

1. Get really good at what you do

It doesn’t matter which tax courses you’ve completed at university or how much you think you know, as a new employee you’ll quickly become aware of just how much you need to learn. Seize every opportunity you can to broaden your knowledge, including gaining insight from bosses and colleagues, as well as sharpening your skills from the taxation education your employer offers. One day you’ll wake up and think to yourself, “You know, I’m now actually pretty good at my job.”

2. Get that first promotion (and the second and third)

No matter how minor it is, that first title bump creates the momentum that will hopefully push you all the way to the top of the tax industry. Don’t waste a minute starting your ascent up the ladder.

3. Work overseas

Take advantage of being relatively…

Dux interview: Jason De Marte, CTA2 Advanced

What is your study background prior to studying CTA2 Advanced?

I studied a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in accounting and taxation, at Curtin University and completed these studies in 2012. I have been working as a consultant at Cooper Partners for about 18 months now and have completed both CTA1 Foundations and CTA2 Advanced during this time. Cooper Partners places high importance on technical training and striving for excellence in whatever we undertake and that helped my approach to CTA2 Advanced.

What was the most valuable aspect of CTA2 Advanced and what have you taken away from it?

The most valuable aspect of CTA2 Advanced was being able to build on my taxation knowledge base in a wide variety of areas, including some I don’t often encounter in my everyday work. I have taken away this well-rounded knowledge base in many different areas of tax, which has been useful as it has given me the ability to apply what I have learned, both to my firm’s clients and the internal training p…

Five ways to impress your boss this EOFY

If you’re an accountant, you’ll know that nothing can accelerate stress levels quite like end of financial year (EOFY). Whether you’re tasked with processing countless tax returns or reconciling accounts, the weeks preceding 30 June can be fraught with professional and administrative challenges. However, the end of financial year also offers a serious opportunity to prove your ability to perform under pressure and establish yourself as the firm’s rising star. Here are five ways to impress your boss this EOFY.

Don’t be afraid to take initiative

If you’re facing back-to-back deadlines, it’s tempting to take a reactive approach to work. However, taking the time to identify a scheduling clash before it happens or fixing a mistake before it creates bigger problems can show your manager you’re unwilling to simply go through the motions.

Put in extra time

High-stress periods often call for employees to go above and beyond. Although work-life balance is essential, preparation for EOFY often invol…

Uber and the GST implications

In a number of recent speeches (including at our National Convention in March), Treasurer Joe Hockey has told the story of ruminating the tax implications while waving goodbye to a friend from the United States who was headed to the airport in an Uber car. He queried the income tax implications for the driver, the GST implications for the driver and his friend, and how that compares to the situation of a taxi driver. These questions have now been answered by the ATO.

On Wednesday 20 May, the ATO issued a media release and guidance on its website indicating that the tax consequences for Uber drivers were analogous to those for a taxi driver. The ATO guidance also covers a range of other services supplied in the sharing economy and posits that the tax implications vary depending on the type of service provided. The implications of providing a room for rent on Airbnb are stated to be quite different to offering an Uber service because of special rules and carve-outs in the GST Act.

This …

Reviewing the ATO’s consultation framework

In 2013, with new leader Commissioner Chris Jordan at the helm, the ATO took on the enormous task of reviewing its consultation framework. The former framework involved an extensive network of 68 committees and working groups, all with the mandate to consult.

A comprehensive review was undertaken and input was sought from relevant stakeholders. The Tax Institute provided constructive feedback to the review to ensure that the new structure following the review would promote open and collaborative consultation.

The result of the restructure is the current framework, consisting of eight main stewardship and liaison groups and a number of other forums geared for consultation on specific areas. The ATO also established the “Hub”, a new portal through which the broader community could raise issues of strategic importance for consultation, and a register of stakeholders with expertise in certain areas of tax law and administration — a highly useful resource for the ATO to draw on for exper…

New Corporate Tax subject launched

Anticipating the future education needs of the tax profession — and in light of the government’s topical tax discussion paper — we are proud to introduce a new Corporate Tax subject to our education program. This subject provides detailed knowledge and understanding of the tax rules and practical problems involved in the taxation of consolidated corporate groups, and has been designed by tax practitioners at the forefront of this highly specialised area to deliver practical learning with academic rigor. Enrolments close on 1 July 2015 so find out more at

Study period 2 open for enrolments

The Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law, including the new Corporate Tax subject, is now open for enrolments. Subjects commence on 6 July 2015. The CTA1 Foundations, CTA2A Advanced and CTA2B Advanced subjects are again offered as stand-alone for anyone who is looking to meet the Australian taxation law component of the education requirements of the Tax Practitioners Boar…

Landing that graduate position

So you’re hunting for that elusive graduate position, wondering what employers in the tax industry want and how can you impress them. Here are three pieces of advice, plus some career words of wisdom straight from the horse’s mouth.

1. Having a good personality matters

If you’ve managed to graduate with your degree firmly in hand, you’re probably more than up to the technical side of the job. What employers will be keen to establish is whether you’ll be a good cultural fit. Try to establish a good rapport with them and let your personality shine through.

2. Don’t place too much emphasis on your tax education

Trust us, your employer understands you only completed one or two tax courses and have largely forgotten what you learnt. There’s no need to talk up your skill set given they’ll be enrolling you in taxation education if they decide to hire you.

3. Exaggeration is acceptable – lying isn’t

Interviewers expect you to talk yourself up – it demonstrates you’re keen to get the position – b…

Dux interview: Natalie Moore, CTA1 Foundations

Why did you choose to study with The Tax Institute?

The CTA program and the Tax Institute was recommended to me by a colleague.

Why did you choose to study?

I thought that the CTA program would give me the best qualification going forward. I also used the introductory unit as a refresher prior to re-starting in the workforce after time off having a family.

What was the most important outcome of studying?

The CTA1 and CTA2 units gave me excellent information and learning in order to prepare for my return to public practice. I returned to work early this year after completing them in 2014 armed with up-to-date knowledge and information in the taxation field.

In your opinion, what separates The Tax Institute’s education programs from other providers?

The Tax Institute program is flexible and features industry-specific information relative to the needs of accountants and tax professionals.

How has your study with The Tax Institute benefited your career objectives?

I have found the CTA1 and CT…

What a week!

What a week for small businesses! As members would have seen in our Special Budget Edition of TaxVine issued on Tuesday night, many new changes were announced benefitting small business taxpayers, including tax cuts, an immediate deduction for professional fees and the ‘big ticket' item, an immediate deduction for assets costing less than $20,000 available from Budget night.

However, this Budget was also about protecting integrity in our tax system, with the introduction of a variety of measures to combat multinational tax avoidance including a new anti-avoidance provision and more extensive transfer pricing documentation requirements, and a proposal to extend the reach of the GST to apply to cross border supplies of digital products and services imported into Australia. We are already busy consulting on these new measures with the release of the Exposure Drafts on Budget night. Members interested in these consultations can find further details about them on the Treasury website.

“Re:think”, review – reflections on structural reforms

A strong foundation is essential if we are to achieve fundamental and lasting reform of our tax system. To achieve such fundamental change will require courage and a number of brave decisions to be taken.

“Re:thinking” the tax system

The beginning of the highly anticipated tax reform white paper process began on 30 March 2015 with the release of the government’s tax discussion paper, Re:think. This document promises to form the centrepiece of a wide-ranging debate around the future of Australia’s outdated tax system. Notwithstanding recent announcements in relation to the possible introduction of a diverted profits tax and the imposition of GST on streamed digital content, I remain hopeful that the document will still serve its core purpose.

Tinkering on the periphery with a handful of ideas such as these, in our view, isn’t enough and in fact may serve to inadvertently undermine the integrity of the white paper process. Having said this, we are encouraged to see that the discussion pa…

What are recruiters looking for in their graduate tax professionals – could it be you?

For the recently graduated, you’ve weathered long nights of study and emerged triumphant, armed with all the makings of an accomplished tax professional. So how can you ensure you have the opportunity to turn this dream into a well-paying reality?

What tax recruiters are looking for

The Big Four cite educational diversity, ambition and a passion to contribute (and evolve) in the workplace as the most coveted traits of a graduate tax professional. Studying the candidate-selection process used by the firms you apply to can be indicative of the skills they prioritise, and therefore the skills you should underscore during the application process.
While selection methods will vary from firm to firm, you can expect the standard process to include a series of interviews, face-to-face assessments and a test of applied skill, such as a case study, to determine your eligibility. Specifically, your would-be employers are looking to gauge:Why you chose to apply for the role, including demonstrating…

National Infrastructure Conference speaker profile: Julian Peck

Julian Peck is head of Infrastructure and Utilities at Morgan Stanley. He leads the M&A advisory team in Australia that covers transactions in infrastructure, utilities and transport sectors, and is based in Melbourne. His team has been heavily involved in most of the large infrastructure M&A transactions in recent years, for example, running the NSW ports leasing transactions. For most of the last 19 years he has been in a variety of advisory roles, and most of that time in these industry sectors. He started his professional career in corporate tax at Coopers & Lybrand as it was then known.

What does National Infrastructure Conference mean to you, and more broadly, to the tax industry?

For me it is an opportunity to exchange ideas with leading tax practitioners on the impacts of tax law settings and, potential changes thereof, on large infrastructure transactions.

What is the topic that you are presenting at the National Infrastructure Conference?

I have been invited to pre…

NSW Annual Tax Forum speaker profile: Graeme Colley

Graeme Colley is currently the Head of Technical and Professional Standards at the SMSF Association.  His experience in superannuation spans over 35 years where has been involved as a regulator with the ATO and Insurance and Superannuation Commission as well as experience with a number of leading organisations.  In his current role Graeme assists in formulating policy for self managed funds for the SMSF Association, technical advice for members as well as overseeing the development and maintenance of professional standards.  He is also an author of a number of publications as well as an adjunct lecturer with the UNSW and UWS.

How long have you been affiliated with The Tax Institute?

My links with the Tax Institute probably go back as far as my days as a student when the journals proved an invaluable source in helping with my understanding of the income tax law.  However, over recent years the Tax Institute has kindly invited me to talk at various discussion groups and conferences in S…

2015 Private Business Retreat

With only three weeks out delegate numbers for the Private Business Tax Retreat are once again strong. The retreat allows you to interact with high calibre practitioners and speakers on key technical and coalface issues.

That a lot of the delegates are repeat attendees shows the support that this retreat rightly receives as being a prime opportunity to engage with peers and colleagues from all states within Australia.

2014 Testimonials

"The Tax Institute’s Private Business Tax Retreat is a fantastic conference for the small to medium business tax adviser.  The quality of the speakers are exceptional, and The Tax Institute’s access to senior ATO officer’s is second to none.  It is also a great conference to network with other practitioners that face similar challenges in their own practices as you."
Garth Drinkwater, CTA, MTax, CA, BComm
Managing Director - Tax Advisory Specialists

"It was wonderfully refreshing to have such high calibre speakers be so forthcoming and direct…

Commissioner of Taxation - new powers in fixing the tax law

Not that we are counting, but there are only four sleeps to go until the release of Federal Budget for 2015-16. As always, The Tax Institute will be participating in the Budget lock-up, and a special Budget edition of TaxVine containing key insights will be released on Tuesday night, so that you will be ready to talk ‘revenue measures' at the coffee machine on Wednesday morning.

In other news, last Friday the Assistant Treasurer announced that the Commissioner would be given a power to fix the tax law where it results in unintended consequences.

We support a statutory remedial power for the Commissioner of Taxation in principle, but have reservations regarding its operation in practice. The essence of the power is pragmatism and that should not be lost in its administration.

The power is based on sound principles of building certainty, reducing complexity, and achieving timely resolution of unintended tax outcomes. Those principles should be front of mind when the power is impleme…

Annual Report and AGM

Renew your 2015-16 membership online and win!

Membership renewals are now due. All online membership renewals received before 12 June 2015 will go into the draw to win one of five early bird prizes of $1,000 from HSBC Bank Australia.
Renew your 2015-16 membership at

AGM notice

Early this month, you will have received notification of The Tax Institute’s Annual General Meeting taking place later this month. The Seventy-second Annual General Meeting of The Tax Institute will be held at 4.00 pm on Thursday, 28 May 2015 at the offices of The Tax Institute situated on Level 10, 175 Pitt Street, Sydney, NSW 2000. You can download notice of meeting documents and a proxy form online at

Annual Report

The 2014 Annual Report is now available to download online. Visit to read your copy.

Have you downloaded our apps?

Giving you the knowledge you need, wherever you are, our growing range of apps includes The Tax Institute App, which …

State's Taxation Conference speaker profile: Andrew Rider

Andrew is a NSW Barrister specialising in state tax disputes, particularly land tax. He has been affiliated with The Tax Institute for more than 20 years.

What does the 15th Annual States’ Taxation Conference mean to you, and more broadly, to the tax industry?

Frank interaction between tax advisers and revenue offices about important practical and technical issues for the greater benefit and understanding of all parties.

What is the topic that you are presenting and what can attendees expect to learn?

I'm presenting on contemporary land tax issues and they can expect practical and technical insights into commonly misunderstood and disputed land tax issues.

What new or hot topics will you cover?

Exemptions for primary production land and principal place of residence.

How will attending your session help delegates help their clients?

Better understanding of practical and technical issues and how to approach them.

Which other sessions at the conference are you most interested in attendin…

It's Budget season!

This week saw the release of the 2015-16 Northern Territory Budget on Tuesday. The Victorian government will hand down its 2015-16 Budget next Tuesday 5 May with the rest of the States and Territories to release their budgets over the coming weeks.

The biggest one that stands out is, of course, the Federal Budget to be handed down on Tuesday 12 May. Some measures that may be included in the Federal Budget have already been leaked. We are certainly interested to see, for example, what the package promising tax cuts for small businesses is all about.

In other news, The Tax Institute hosted a roundtable discussion with the Federal Treasurer, the Hon Joe Hockey MP, and senior members of the Treasurer's Tax White Paper Unit in Adelaide on Tuesday to discuss the Government's Tax Discussion Paper. Here is a link to our media release.

Members of the Institute had the opportunity to provide feedback to the Treasurer on the recently released Discussion Paper. The contributions our membe…