‘Tax Issues for Digital Business’ with Joanne Dunne, CTA

Joanne Dunne, CTA, is a Tax Partner at Minter Ellison, Melbourne. With more than 20 years' experience in tax in both Australia and New Zealand, her experience includes advising and assisting clients in the e-commerce industry, or those which have a digital presence, on commercial and tax structuring, international tax, residency and source issues, and contract issues.

Affiliated with The Tax Institute for more than a decade, Joanne is presenting on ‘Tax Issues for Digital Business’ at the 31st National Convention in Melbourne. We spoke to Joanne about her upcoming presentation, and what else to look forward to at March’s Convention.

“It is good to see the National Convention return to Melbourne this year; it is the preeminent conference where sessions of relevance to all sectors and sizes of business are offered”, Joanne told us. “Among many other sessions, I am interested in the cases session on day three from Eugene Wheelahan and in particular Chris Sievers' GST update”.

Joanne’s presentation, on the first day of the convention, considers the issues arising for digital businesses and businesses transitioning to have a digital presence. “The session will follow a case study for a small retail/service Australian business moving to a digital presence in Australia first and then growing and going global. It will cover the specific digital issues to consider for entities like the one described in the case study, and about potential future law change and policy developments in the digital space. I’ll also be briefly highlighting some of the critical non-tax issues for businesses moving to have a digital presence”, she said.

On how attending the session will help delegates help their clients, Joanne said “The case study has been formulated to cover clients of all sizes considering a move to a digital presence. Basic issues like deductibility of website development costs will be considered; not just cross border related issues. The case study also covers some of the more complex issues to consider when considering a global presence – such as source, residence, nature of income. The idea is that attendees dealing with clients will all get at least something out of the case study”.

“Recent cases relevant to the digital economy with appeals due in 2016 will be considered in my session (e.g. Seven Network case on royalties, Tech Mahindra case on business profits vs royalties in the Treaty context).  I’ll also be touching on other recent cases on issues such as residence (e.g. Bywater Investments). This will ensure that attendees are aware of the most recent case law on those issues that are important to determining tax impacts for clients moving to have a digital presence.

When asked about what the the new financial year may bring for digital businesses, Joanne predicted “While it will be a huge thing to manage at the OECD, I think that by year end Treaty changes will have been accepted in a multilateral agreement which could impact on when a permanent establishment arises for entities in the digital economy. Australia will sign up to that.”

The 31st National Convention takes place at the Grand Hyatt, 2-4 March 2016. Featuring more than 30 sessions, and three streams (SME, Corporate and Hot Topics), the wide-ranging program has something for everyone. Featuring the black tie Gala Dinner and 2016 Tax Adviser of the Year Awards, both held in the Plaza Ballroom, don’t miss Australia’s premier taxation conference. Find out more.


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