Showing posts from 2016

Tax policy - the year in review

by Stephanie Caredes, CTA *

2016 was a year that, at the beginning, still held some hope for significant reforms to be made to the Australian tax system. While the momentum had waned, there still seemed to be some possibility that the promised tax reform white paper may come to fruition.

While we are all acutely aware that this did not occur, it is worth reflecting on the milestones that did occur in tax policy in 2016.

Budget focus – significant reforms
The Tax Institute welcomed the 2016-17 Budget as a good step in the evolution of the Australian tax system, though by no means was it a revolution. We felt that the changes promoted fairness in the aspects of the tax system that were impacted.

Tax agent portal and ATO online systems - a joint message to members of The Tax Institute by the President and the CEO

Dear Members,

We are making every effort on your behalf to obtain more information from the ATO about their progress in fixing the present problems with the ATO portal and online systems, and when those fixes are likely to allow you to resume your normal work using the ATO portal system.

We have been in touch with Senior ATO Officers and have been advised that they are working frantically towards effecting a fix as soon as possible. We have been assured that the ATO regards the tax agent portal as a high priority system, and hence is treating this matter with the highest priority. We have also been assured that there has been no loss of data.

We'll be keeping a close watch on the progress of developments and have asked to be kept up to date. We have also emphasised the importance of frequently keeping agents up to date on any progress.

The Tax Institute is acutely aware of the significant impact of this outage on our members’ practices and that members would have already suffered …

Predicting the unpredictable – The 2017 Financial Services Taxation Conference

2016 taught us to expect the unexpected. Donald Trump was elected President, the Panama Papers were leaked, Brexit actually happened, changing the GST did not… technology upped its disruption ante, the OECD shone the spotlight on its BEPS project and the crackdown on multinational tax avoidance got even more real. These events have changed the face of the financial services industry and given the Australian corporate tax system a shake-up. If 2017 is anything like the year gone by, we’re in for an interesting ride.
Australia’s financial services sector is the largest contributor to the national economy, contributing around $140 billion to GDP over the last year. It has been a major driver of economic growth and with 450,000 people employed in this sector, it will continue to be a core sector of Australia’s economy into the future.*
Yet, as dominant and resilient as the industry may be, it is in no way immune to global and domestic pressures. Almost a decade ago, the Global Financial Cri…

Challenges and opportunities for tomorrow's tax professionals

by Noel Rowland *

At The Tax Institute, from the National Council down, we’ve committed time and focus to imagining who the tax professional of the future will be and what they will do.

With many factors driving change — including technology, demographics, social trends, economic fluctuations, political shifts and enhancements to legislation and regulations — we continuously ask how the tax function might evolve over the next decade.

Tax 2025
I recently attended an event that featured KPMG’s Grant Wardell-Johnson, who co-authored a discussion paper released in August, titled Tax 2025.

Chapter VII of this paper addresses the tax function of the future and outlines the trends and outcomes that may emerge over the next decade. For example, the tax function will likely require multiple new skills, including deep expertise in technology, data analytics, economic analysis, communication and negotiation, as well as proficiency in managing disputes across a wider variety of jurisdictions and …

The rise of a tax star

In 2014, The Tax Institute’s Tax Adviser of the Year Awards recognised Matthew Andruchowycz as the Emerging Tax Star for that year.

At the time, Matthew was a Senior Associate at Wallmans Lawyers in Adelaide. According to the judges, he demonstrated an ability to work on complex matters at a level significantly beyond the level expected of a tax professional with fewer than five years’ experience.

Fast forward to today and Matthew is already an accomplished senior tax professional. As a Principal at DMAW Lawyers, he works with accountants, financial planners, bankers, business owners and high net worth individuals on a range of intricate taxation and superannuation matters.

He is also a sought-after tax author and speaker, and has been included in both the Australian Financial Review’s “Best Lawyers” list and Doyles Guide to the Australian legal profession as a leading tax lawyer.

Choosing tax as a career
The Tax Institute asked Matthew about the factors that initially led him to pur…

Tax and small business - there's work to be done

by Noel Rowland *

On 10 October in Canberra, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Business Leaders Summit featured a panel session on small business. It included input from the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, the Hon. Kelly O’Dwyer, MP, and the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, the Hon. Dr Andrew Leigh, MP, who acknowledged that small business represents the engine room of the Australian economy and that the tax system has a significant impact on small business.

So where are we at with reforms to the tax system that support small business?

Two reports help to answer this:

the Australian Government’s Re:think tax discussion paper; andthe Board of Taxation’s Review of tax impediments facing small business.
The government’s discussion paper was issued in March 2015 and influenced the tax measures targeted at small business included in the last federal Budget.

The Board of Taxation’s 2014 review, although preceding the above report, highlighted the fact that a lot of work…

The Tax Institute comments on the ATO's public advice and guidance

The Tax Institute’s Tax Counsel, Stephanie Caredes, recently participated in an ATO panel discussion with three other tax experts. The moderator was Channel 7’s David Koch.

The discussion centred on how the Tax Office is partnering with industry to improve the experience of tax payers and tax professionals through better public advice and guidance.

Alongside Stephanie, the panel included the ATO’s Deputy Chief Tax Counsel, Will Day, the Corporate Tax Association’s Executive Director, Michelle De Niese, and Prolegis Lawyers’ Consultant, John King.

The discussion covered a range of specific issues around the main theme, including measures to improve public advice and guidance services, the provision of public advice and guidance on changing legislation, and the new law companion and practical compliance guidelines.

The panel also answered a number of public advice and guidance questions.

You can see a video of the discussion, produced by Pinstripe Media, on the ATO’s YouTube channel.

Plan now to make the most of upcoming super changes

The 2016/17 Federal Budget was the start of announcements to introduce sweeping changes to superannuation. The taxation arrangements are changing significantly and while the ability to build superannuation balances will be greatly hindered for some people, new opportunities are also available for others grow theirs. 

“No strategy previously created for clients can be assumed to be appropriate or complying from 1 July 2017 – revisiting those strategies and adapting them to new laws will be imperative for advisers and their clients,” says Liz Westover, Director with PwC Private Clients.

With most of these reforms taking effect from 1 July, 2017, the 2016/17 financial year provides one of the last opportunities for many to contribute to their super balances under existing laws, but importantly to get their superannuation affairs in order to be ready for the new era of saving in super.

There are opportunities for Australians to make provision for the new super laws to assist in maximisi…

The Tax Institute's engagement with the ATO

The big bold letters are a big bold reflection of The Tax Institute’s leadership and continual engagement with the Australian Taxation Office on matters the ATO are consulting on to achieve better outcomes for members!

Contact the Institute’s Tax Policy & Advocacy team to find out more or to get involved.

ATO Hot Spots - The 24th Noosa Tax Intensive

Fiona Dillon, CTA is an Assistant Commissioner in the ATO’s Tax Counsel Network. At the 24th Noosa Tax Intensive in November, Fiona presents the session ‘ATO Hot Spots’.
As Senior Tax Counsel, Fiona has been the ATO’s technical lead on a range of advice, litigation, reform and law design matters across a number of specialisations including trusts and Div 7A, has contributed to the strategic leadership of the ATO’s public advice and guidance, and has been a longstanding member of the ATO’s Public Rulings Panel. Her session will provide an overview of the ATO’s view on some current hot spots, including Div 7A. We spoke to her about what to expect at the Intensive.
Fiona told us “Attendees will be given insights into the Commissioner’s dealings with private groups and what are the latest matters attracting the Commissioner’s attention.” With audience participation welcomed, her session will also touch on questions around Division 7A and trusts: Sub trust or complying loan?; what constitut…

Capital Gains Tax – 31 Years On – The Great Debate.

Day one of the 24th Noosa Tax Intensive kicks off with Capital Gains Tax – 31 Years On – The Great Debate. This panel session will be facilitated by Michael Butler, CTA (Finlaysons) and features a number of experts in the area, including Brian Richards, CTA (Richards Advisory), and Mark Robertson QC, CTA, (Barrister at Law), who here tell us a little more about what to expect from the session.
“It is envisaged that the session will explore the legal developments of the CGT provisions and what that has meant in a practical sense to practitioners. The Panel will discuss where the CGT provisions have been applied in a particular way that perhaps the draftsmen did not originally envisage”, Brian said.
“What is a CGT asset, what is a liability, what is the distinction between pre and post CGT assets, what is the market value of a CGT asset, how do the CGT provisions provide for a sensible and practical treatment of trusts and interests therein will be matters touched on during the discuss…

Tax, technology and the potential for reform

by Noel Rowland *

A series of recent events touched on issues relating to technological change and tax reform.

Technology steering group
A few weeks ago, The Tax Institute convened the second meeting of its technology steering group.

The group was established this year to explore the impacts of technological change on businesses, the tax profession and The Tax Institute.
A specific focus is emerging trends, such as digital disruption and artificial intelligence, and their likely impact on members of the tax profession.
At this point, the group is asking questions and raising issues rather than forming definitive conclusions. For example, what will the tax professional of the future look like? How can the institute leverage technology to provide higher quality, more efficient services to members?
We’re also reviewing research developed by the Australian Taxation Office, accounting firms and others.
No tax professional today can ignore the fast pace of change. In fact, smart technology…

Simon Steward QC, FTI, at the 2016 National Resources Tax Conference

Simon Steward QC, FTI, is a barrister who specialises in revenue law. At October’s National Resources Tax Conference in Perth he will present the session ‘Can Salary Paid to an Employee Ever Be on Capital Account?’ and take part in a panel discussion on market value. We spoke to him about what to expect at the conference.

Admitted to the legal profession in 1992, Simon was called to the Victorian Bar in 1999 and appointed Silk in 2009. Specialising in the areas of Administrative Law, Taxation and Revenue, he is a Senior Fellow in the University of Melbourne Faculty of Law and is the immediate past President of the Tax Bar Association. He has been a member of the Institute for approximately 21 years.

Asked what attendees can expect to learn from his session, Simon told us he’ll be looking at “The deductibility of Salary, and whether salary and wages can ever be on capital account”.

A perennial issue for the energy and resources sector, the issue of the deductibility of salary paid to emp…

CGT - 31 Years On - New Panel Session at the 24th Noosa Tax Intensive

Day one of this year's Noosa Tax Intensive was due to kick off with a plenary session from Justice Tony Pagone, a leading Federal Court judge specialising in taxation matters, speaking on recent Australian federal taxation decisions and their implications for taxpayers and their advisers.

Justice Pagone unfortunately is now unable to speak at this year's Intensive. Nevertheless, the Institute is excited to announce we have secured a number of leading tax specialists to debate on whether - after 31 years - CGT has lost its way.

Our expert panel will consider whether: 
Australia's CGT rules, and the way they are administered, are keeping pace with the rapid changes in the modern business environment in 2016 the ATO has responded adequately to, and actively engaged with, SMEs in relation to CGT issues; and "looking through the lens" of recent cases, the interpretation of CGT rules has adapted since their inception and where is this heading in the future? The agenda will…

Practically Using the Small Business Restructure Rollover - SME Tax Symposium

Dung Lam is a Senior Associate at McCullough Robertson and has practised in the SME sphere for more than a decade. Advising on a wide variety of taxes, from income tax, CGT and GST to state taxes such as payroll and land tax, Dung also assists taxpayers in tax disputes with the ATO and state revenue authorities. We spoke to her about the upcoming SME Tax Symposium, where she will present the session ‘Practically Using the Small Business Restructure Rollover’.

Effective from 1 July 2016, the new Small Business Restructure Rollover allows small businesses to potentially restructure their operations without triggering any tax implications. While the new rollover provides some fantastic opportunities for small businesses, there are traps and tips which need to be taken into account when practically applying it.

Dung told us her session will look at the “Practical issues that only come out when you actually apply the law. The rollover is deceptively drafted to read simple but it is actually …

Practical Part IVA scenarios - The 24th Noosa Tax Intensive

David W Marks, QC, CTA, is a Brisbane commercial silk, specialising in tax. He appears in court as a specialist advocate. At the 24th Noosa Tax Intensive, David will be our coordinator for the workshop on Part IVA. This workshop will explore the issues presented by Simon Steward, QC, in plenary session seven in relation to Part IVA, and how it may, or may not, be applied by the Commissioner in different practical situations.

Plenary session seven, ‘When will Part IVA be an issue with SME reorganisations?’ is presented by Simon Steward, QC, FTI (Victorian Bar) and Kirsten Fish, CTA (ATO) and examines the extent to which transactions may be formulated given the presence of the new Part IVA. In particular, can beneficial tax results only be achieved by accidental planning?

David tells us that delegates at the workshop he is coordinating will discover “the practical application of Part IVA” and it will “enrich their understanding of practical Part IVA scenarios”.
David is joined in the work…

Private Company Capital Management – The 24th Noosa Tax Intensive

Paul Lyon, ATI, is a Tax Partner with EY in Sydney. Paul will be one of more than 30 experts heading north in November for the 24th Noosa Tax Intensive where he be one of the leaders for a workshop on 'Capital Management Issues', coordinated by Scott McGill, CTA (Pitcher Partners). The workshop draws on two plenary sessions on Private Company Capital Management, presented by Paul Hockridge, CTA (Mutual Trust) and David Marschke, CTA (Mills Oakley Lawyers) on day one of the Intensive. 
Paul Hockridge, CTA, is a Tax Partner at Mutual Trust with over 30 years’ experience in tax, asset protection, estate and succession planning, FBT and salary packaging. We spoke to both Pauls about what to expect in the plenary session and the workshop.
Specialising in advising high-wealth families and closely held businesses as well as many accounting and law firms, Paul Hockridge teaches in the Masters program in the Law School at the University of Melbourne and has been involved in consultation …

Division 7A and Division 152 - The 24th Noosa Tax Intensive

Brian Richards, CTA, of Richards Advisory, has specialised in providing taxation advice to accounting and legal practitioners in respect of a wide range of business clients for approximately 40 years, or as he puts it “Has been around for a long time, but loves tax”. His particular taxation specialty areas include business restructuring, intellectual property transactions, CGT issues and tax planning matters.

At the 24th Noosa Tax Intensive in November, Brian joins workshop leaders Ash Chotai, CTA (Chotais Chartered Accountants), Neal Dallas, CTA (McInnes Wilson Lawyers), Linda Farmer, CTA (Grant Thornton), Stuart Glasgow, CTA (Mutual Trust Pty Ltd), and Maggie Millar, FTI (Grant Thornton) for a workshop on Division 7A and Division 152, coordinated by Paul Banister, CTA (Grant Thornton).

This workshop expands on the issues discussed in three plenary sessions at the Intensive in relation to private company payments and loans, and the small business CGT concessions. The case studies will …

Preparing for a future that is already here - The VIC 4th Annual Tax Forum

Almost all practitioners would agree that tax reform, technology, and globalisation will change the way the tax profession operates in the future. The problem is – the future is already here – and it has begun to affect the tax profession as a whole. How will you, as a tax adviser, prepare for these future changes at the same time that you’re grappling with current ones? Join us and a long list of thought leaders at the VIC 4th Annual Tax Forum to prepare for this brave new world.

With Parliament finally resuming after what has been a year marked with political instability and would-be tax reform, the proposed close-but-no-cigar tax measures will be right back on the Government’s agenda. Hot topics relating to tax reform, corporate tax, superannuation, and small business will resurface. These also tie in with ongoing conversations about mergers and acquisitions (M&A), diverted profits tax, base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS), country by country reporting (CbC), and multinationa…

A closer look at the VIC 4th Annual Tax Forum program with Jason Barnes, CTA

Jason Barnes, CTA, is a member of the Organising Committee for the VIC 4th Annual Tax Forum. At King & Wood Mallesons he is a Special Counsel, and has over 15 years' tax experience. His experience includes roles as a Special Counsel at a specialist tax advisory firm, and two secondments to major banks in Hong Kong and Melbourne.

Primarily practising in the area of income tax (including tax audits and litigation), his practice also extends to goods and services tax, stamp duty and resource taxes, but he tells us “My current favourite tax topic of interest is the new foreign resident capital gains withholding regime!”

We spoke to Jason about the upcoming VIC 4th Annual Tax Forum, and some of the sessions he’s looking forward to.

Asked what the Forum means to him, and more broadly, to the tax profession, Jason said “It’s an opportunity to hear and learn from some of the best tax minds in the country and to catch up and network with colleagues - existing and former - and clients”.


Tax Governance for Corporations - The VIC 4th Annual Tax Forum

Robert Gallo is a Partner at PwC, where he helps tax functions transform their operations through the use of strategy, risk management and technology solutions. Here we speak to him about his session at the VIC 4th Annual Tax Forum.
Robert has more than 15 years’ experience in advising clients on optimising their tax reporting and compliance processes as well as transforming their tax functions to best balance their use of strategy, people, processes and technology. His experience expands across tax functions in various geographies and industries including banking and finance, retail, manufacturing, energy and mining. This experience includes tax function design and assessment, application of tax corporate governance and risk management frameworks, process improvement, tax software implementation combined with tax project assurance.

In his session at the VIC 4th Annual Tax Forum, Robert will take part in a panel discussion with Jeff Stevenson (Australian Taxation Office) and Stuart Cam…

Superannuation with an international flavour - Marsha–Laine Dungog JD, LLM, and Roy Berg JD, LLM

On day two of the 2016 National Superannuation Conference we are joined by two US based practitioners for the session ‘US Tax Issues Affecting Australian Superannuation Fund Members with a US Connection’, Marsha–Laine F Dungog JD, LLM, and Roy Berg JD, LLM. We spoke to them about what to expect from their session.
An international tax lawyer admitted to practice in California, Michigan, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the US Tax Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, Marsha–Laine Dungog JD, LLM, is a senior US tax lawyer at Moodys Gartner Tax Law LLP. Marsha specialises in crossborder tax planning and tax compliance services for high net worth individuals and entrepreneurs. She has over 15 years of experience providing international tax consulting

Roy Berg JD, LLM, is an international tax lawyer and admitted to practice in Canada and the U.S. and Director, US Tax Law, and Barrister and Solicitor of Moodys Gartner Tax Law LLP. Roy has more than 23 years of experience in cross-border tax m…