What did we learn at the Noosa Tax Intensive?

Last week I had the pleasure of being in Noosa for the National Tax Intensive Retreat . Noosa failed to turn on the sunshine, but that didn’t worry the delegates who realise that tax is strictly an indoor sport! The focus of the retreat was “Trusts: A Brave New World” and 143 delegates gathered to nut out the issues over the course of 7 plenary sessions and 3 workshops.
The plenary presentations were excellent. Tony Slater QC FTIA’s opening address on “Why we draft trust deeds the way we do” was a highlight for me – the hour passes very quickly when you are listening to one of the finest orators in the tax field. We all laughed when he gave the advice along the lines of “if you trust deed precedent is older than you are, then perhaps you shouldn’t be using it” but the message was very clear.  You need to understand your clients’ circumstances and how they can be addressed in the deed. Don’t assume that the off-the-shelf product will suffice. Reading the trust deed is essential when giving advice to a client or preparing a trust resolution. You can’t just assume you know what the trust deed says. It is tried and true advice that prudent tax practitioners follow every day.
The workshop sessions were focussed on practical problems which delegates received prior to the conference. For example, in workshop 1, we were presented with extracts of a trust deed, and then asked how distributions could be made under a variety of circumstances. At the end of the workshops, delegates received a copy of a model answer, which should prove to be a valuable resource.
Another highlight of the retreat was engaging with Graeme Cuxson and Haydn Daw from Treasury on the re-write and reform of Division 6. Whilst Graeme was unable to share precisely what will be contained in the Discussion Paper, it is very clear that Treasury are open to ideas on how the law could be reformed. I know many delegates took the time to speak to Graeme and Haydn during the session breaks, and no doubt many more intend to follow up ideas by email. The Tax Institute will be drafting a submission on the Discussion Paper, and we will welcome contributions from members. 
Finally, I should add that if you missed out this time round, the National Tax Intensive Retreat will be repeated in November 2011. The program will be the same, but the venue will move to the Sheraton Noosa Resort & Spa (and hopefully the weather will be better next time round, but that is one thing the events team can't control!). Click here to find out more .   It goes without saying that I highly recommend it.

Tamera Lang
Tax Counsel, The Tax Institute

Great weather for a tax conference. Morning swim plan was aborted.


Noosa Beach in the "sunshine" state.



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