Decision-making in GST and big data: 2019 National GST Intensive


Get to know speakers Robert Olding, CTA and Lachlan Wolfers, CTA. 

Widely recognised as one of Australia’s top GST experts, Robert Olding, CTA has 30 years tax technical and administrative experience in the private and public sectors.

“My professional life is currently spread over several different activities,” he says.

“Sitting on administrative review hearings at the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal; providing advice, training and legislative drafting services in various countries as an IMF (International Monetary Fund) fiscal law expert.

“Advising the Queensland Office of State Revenue and chairing the OSR’s Taxation Rulings Advisory Panel; providing advice and representation to a small number of clients on indirect tax matters; and more recently as a part-time senior member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).”

At the 2019 National GST Intensive, Robert will be presenting about decision-making in GST.

“I am intending to traverse statutory interpretation; administrative decision-making practices; and policy development,” he explains.

“There is a tendency to look to apply what it is thought ‘should’ be the law or broad notions of policy, rather than construing the law as enacted by Parliament.

“A proper analysis of evidence when making factual findings or submissions is essential.”

Robert says attendees will take away a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities in decision making in this context which will assist decision-makers, but also advisers in better targeting their work.

When he’s not knee-deep in tax technical work, Robert likes to spend time with his immediate and extended family and enjoy the family property with its four miniature ponies, two chooks, dog, cat and multitude of ducks.

He also loves musical theatre and experiencing other cultures in his work for the IMF (not as a tourist but working with people in different geographic and cultural settings).

Lachlan Wolfers started working in tax in 1997, working with former Institute President Gordon Cooper. He later worked at Thomson Playford (now Thomson Geer) for 5 years with another former President, Ken Schurgott.

“It was at this time that I developed an interest and specialisation in indirect taxes, which coincided with the introduction of GST in Australia,” he explains.

“After joining KPMG as a partner in 2004 (where I was hired by Chris Jordan and Michael Evans), I then relocated to China in 2011 to help KPMG set up an indirect tax practice.

“I am now the Global Head of Indirect Taxes for KPMG.”

Lachlan says he’s been very fortunate to have worked with many of the leading luminaries in the tax profession in Australia.

“I vividly recall attending my first Institute event back in 1998 and watching a bunch of old guys being awarded with their 25 year medallions,” he says.

“Now that I’m not far away from this milestone myself, I must have been confused since I refuse to believe I’m now one of those old guys!”

Lachlan will be presenting “A View to the future: technology and big data” at this year’s National GST Intensive

The session will explore how the evolution of technology (both for tax, and in the broader economy) impact the behaviours and practices of taxpayers, practitioners and the tax authorities. It will also cover how GST/VAT (as an indirect tax system) will evolve in response to fulfil its purpose in taxing end consumption.

“Taxes such as a GST or VAT are, in my view, amongst the first taxes which will truly become fully automated, and therefore many specialists in this area are at the forefront of technologies such as blockchain, compliance automation tools, data and analytics, and tax engines,” he says.

“The ability to understand how technology is impacting the tax profession is critical, alongside traditional tax advisory skills.”

Delegates will take away from the session a clear view of the changes which are likely to impact clients and tax practitioners from an indirect tax perspective through to 2025.

Lachlan says that while some people may not agree with all of the predictions, discussing and debating them is critical for ensuring that the tax profession remains relevant and continue to provide high end valuable services to clients.

And what does he get up to in his spare time?

“Swimming, running and generally trying to stay fit,” he says.

“Last year I completed a 15km ocean swim around Hong Kong – I guess I find long distance sports a form of meditation and relaxation from the demands of work.”

The 2019 National GST Intensive takes place 12-13 September in Melbourne.

Find out more about Robert and Lachlan’s sessions, and the rest of the program, on our website.

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