“Back yourself and take the opportunities presented by tax reform with both hands.”
Name: Jason Barnes, CTA
Company: Greenwoods & Freehills Pty Ltd
Member since: 2005
Areas of specialty
Primarily income tax (including tax audits and litigation), but I’ve also dabbled in goods and services tax, stamp duty and aspects of petroleum resource rent tax. My focus has historically been on financing, international and cross-border, commercial and capital management transactions for clients in the financial services and natural resource industries.
Why are you a member of The Tax Institute?
The opportunity to attend seminars and conferences at which the best tax practitioners in the country present, and to network with clients, colleagues and other practitioners. Much like undertaking postgraduate studies, being a member of The Tax Institute is becoming a prerequisite for tax professionals.
How is your membership beneficial to your practice and clients?
In addition to learning and networking opportunities (which benefit my clients through enhanced knowledge and, ultimately, better advice), membership of The Tax Institute has led to me being on the organising committee of the Younger Tax Practitioners series in Victoria, which has provided me with the chance to give back to the profession.
How did you end up in tax?
As an articled clerk at Mallesons Stephen Jaques (as it was then known), I rotated through the tax group and, among other things, was drawn to the analytical and problem-solving nature of tax law work. I then had to wait nine months before my articles year ended to join the tax group as a solicitor.
What are the challenges for tax practitioners this year?
As is the case most years, keeping up to date with the ever-changing tax landscape in the form of legislation, case law and tax administration. This is crucial for tax practitioners from the perspective of providing sound advice to existing clients and winning new clients, and working in an increasingly competitive market.
Most memorable career moment to date
Appearing before the High Court in a matter about share buy-backs. Although my client ultimately lost the case, being involved in a matter from the objection stage through to the High Court, working with some of the best tax litigators and barristers in Australia, and playing a small part in the making of new tax law was something that few tax practitioners will experience.
How do you relax?
Away from work, I relax by spending time with my family, often at a local park playing cricket or football with my oldest son and watching my youngest son sing and dance to his favourite artist (currently Pink, which is a step up from the Wiggles)! I also enjoy exercising (although training for Tough Mudder is rarely relaxing), spending time working in my garden, and child-free evenings out with my wife.
Advice to those entering the profession
Tax is a hard slog — the learning curve is steep and there are many issues for which there are no easy answers. But the rewards from a career in tax more than outweigh the challenges — there is a sense of achievement when you apply the law to your client’s factual scenario and come up with a commercial and practical solution. Back yourself and take the opportunities presented by tax reform with both hands. And always put yourself in your client’s shoes when providing advice — you will be a better practitioner if you do.
The Tax Institute is Australia’s leading professional association in tax. Its 13,000 members include tax agents, accountants and lawyers as well as tax practitioners in corporations, government and academia.