Uncertainties in our changing tax system – 5th Victorian Annual Tax Forum

Sue Williamson CTA (Life)

With tax law (both domestic and global) as complex and uncertain as it's ever been, 2017 has also seen tax system administration changing. And what taxpayers and their advisers look for from tax administrators is evolving.

Against this backdrop of constant change, the Annual Tax Forum returns to Victoria in 2017. Now in its 5th year, this event brings together a host of high-profile speakers to present on a broad range of topical issues.

Here we preview some  key sessions and speakers from this year’s program.

The Forum kicks off with a session from Andrew Mills CTA (Life) (ATO), facilitated by Tim Neilson CTA, (Greenwoods & Herbert Smith Freehills), titled ‘The tax administration continuum – “The law was made for man, not man for the law.”'

In this session, Andrew will examine the changing face of tax administration. The inherent risk to a jurisdiction’s tax base has increased dramatically in recent years as the economy becomes more globalised and market reach and supply chain complexity increase. At the same time, new technology allows revenue authorities to become far more precise in their targeting, review and approach to the administration of the tax system.

Andrew Mills CTA (Life)

Andrew’s session addresses the challenges this new world presents, and asks whether taxpayers or the Commissioner can achieve certainty in real time. He also looks at the Commissioner’s general power of administration and statutory remedial power. Andrew will discuss the possible shift away from the present-day model of reviews, audits and disputes towards further early engagement and non-binding advice, as well as the impact of political uncertainty on the ATO’s ability to administer the law and the observed behaviours of taxpayers, and how behavioural insights can help achieve greater compliance.

Following the rest of day one’s program, split across corporate, private and hot topics streams, and just before we break for a cocktail reception at the Bluestone Wine Lounge of the InterContinental, Melbourne, Anthony Klein CTA (PwC) will facilitate the panel session: ‘Challenges faced by revenue authorities, advisers and corporate tax managers’.

Anthony Klein CTA

Panellists in this session will include Martin Jacobs (ATO), Cameron Rider FTI (Greenwoods & Herbert Smith Freehills) and Paul Suppree (Corporate Tax Association).

In the context of increasingly uncertain tax laws, an enhanced focus on cross-border activity and increased public scrutiny of corporate tax performance, the panel will discuss how organisations can manage reputational risk, stakeholder expectations (both internal and external), the changing role of advisers, and the trends for tax functions.

The panel will also review the tolerance of risk by both advisers and corporates engaging with revenue authorities, the greater levels of ambiguity in tax law, and the concept of a 'fair' amount of tax.

Day two of the Forum will see the Hon Kenneth Hayne AC QC (Victorian Bar) deliver a keynote address that will look in detail at the 'High Court Decision in Ausnet Transmission Group and the implications for infrastructure projects'.

The Hon Kenneth Hayne AC QC

With the increasing number of privatisations and infrastructure projects (and the significant investments involved), the revenue/capital divide continues to be relevant and important, as the recent High Court decision in AusNet Transmission Group and other cases such as Cliffs International, McLennan and CityLink have shown.

In his address, the Hon Mr Hayne will discuss this vexed question and the potential implications for infrastructure projects.

The Forum’s final session will be one that affects every practitioner: ‘Part IVA: A perspective on the GAAR Panel’. It will feature General Anti-Avoidance Rules Panel members, an adviser and an advocate discussing a range of issues relating to the current Pt IVA landscape.

Tim Neilson CTA (Greenwoods & Herbert Smith Freehills), Simon Steward QC, FTI (Victorian Bar), Sue Williamson CTA (Life) (EY) and Fiona Knight CTA (ATO) will discuss the role of the GAAR Panel in Pt IVA disputes and current trends in Pt IVA matters being heard by the GAAR Panel.

They will look at how taxpayers can best use the GAAR Panel during the course of a dispute, and discuss the effect of the 2013 changes on Pt IVA matters.

The 5th Victorian Annual Tax Forum will take place on 12-13 October 2017 at the InterContinental, Melbourne. You can find out more about these sessions and speakers, and the rest of the program, on our website.


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