Tax disputes on the rise: how to navigate engagements with the ATO

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Between recent legislation and familiar bugbears like the revenue/capital distinction and Division 7A, many of us deal with a level of uncertainty when it comes to the finer points of a client’s tax obligations. And with the ATO and other regulators currently better resourced than ever and with access to a wealth of data, it’s a recipe for rising tax disputes.

We spoke to Keith Swan, Chair of the organising committee for the upcoming Tax Disputes Masterclass, who shared with us a bit about the event. A core area of interest for any tax practitioner, the program deals with the how, why and when of engaging with the ATO to resolve a tax dispute.

“These engagements can be time-consuming and expensive, and the tax outcomes can be significant. The extensive experience of our presenters will provide insights regarding the available options and practical tips to achieve efficient and favourable resolutions,” Keith said.

“It is a busy one-day event with a diverse range of speakers to provide attendees with different perspectives and insights on a variety of issues that arise in tax disputes.”

Keith himself, currently a partner of KPMG Law’s Tax Dispute Resolution & Controversy team, is certainly no stranger to tax disputes. He began his tax career with the ATO, in its graduate program and still counts many of the colleagues he met there among his friends.

“My favourite thing about the tax profession is the collegiate approach to resolving complex problems. The complexity requires a variety of experts to work together to find solutions and it also requires working collaboratively with regulators to resolve different views on the application of the law. The silver lining of the complexity is that it brings people together to resolve problems, which is what I enjoy,” he said.

Learn from an abundance of experience in tax disputes

“The most challenging aspect to organising this event was narrowing the list of topics so that we could fit it all into one day,” Keith told us.

“The organising committee is made up of a number of tax professionals with extensive experience in tax dispute resolution, and most of us haven’t got out much lately, so there was lots to talk about in the wonderful world of tax disputes.”

The Tax Disputes Masterclass includes 10 sessions, dealing with topics ranging from what’s considered “good evidence” in an ATO audit, to declaratory relief as a potential alternative to Part IVC. Whether you’re gearing up for your first experience dealing closely with the ATO, or you’re a seasoned pro keeping up with current thought, there’s something for all tax practitioners to gain from attending.

“We will be hearing from representatives from the ATO, the bar, tax advisors, as well as in-house tax managers. There will be sessions relevant to the private wealth market as well as the large business market. I think the organising committee has done a terrific job in ensuring that there are a variety of sessions to appeal to a wide audience,” Keith said.

Plus, if you’ve been keenly waiting for a chance to reconnect in-person and network with colleagues, ATO representatives and other regulators, you’ll be glad to hear that this year, the event will take place both online and face-to-face at The Establishment, Sydney. The Institute team will continue to monitor health and safety guidelines to keep attendees informed about the in-person event.

“This year we are hoping to welcome people to attend in-person at the Establishment in Sydney. We will of course also give attendees the option to attend virtually, given the ongoing impact of COVID,” Keith said.

Catch Keith at the Tax Disputes Masterclass, 16 March 2022

Make sure to check out the event brochure and pick out which sessions are your must-sees. Keith shared with us a few of the sessions you’ll see him at.

“Given the prevalence of transfer pricing issues and disputes, I am very much looking forward to attending the session on transfer pricing and evidence. I am also looking forward to hearing from our panel of in-house tax managers on the challenges of managing an ATO review or audit from their perspective as I think these insights will help me do my job as a tax dispute lawyer better.”

Find out more about the event.

About Keith

Copy of Firstname-Lastname-Circle-160x160 (9)- Keith SwanKeith Swan is a partner of KPMG Law’s Tax Dispute Resolution & Controversy team. He has over 17 years’ experience specialising in tax disputes and litigation. Keith’s experience includes managing ATO and State Revenue reviews and audits, negotiating favourable settlements, and working with a range of leading tax counsel in litigating matters against the Commissioner of Taxation and State Revenue authorities. Keith has also resolved disputes by way of the various alternative dispute resolution mechanisms that are available in tax matters. His clients have included large multinationals, small to medium enterprises and high net wealth individuals. Keith was admitted as a solicitor in NSW in May 2005, is a member of the Law Society of NSW and holds a Master of Taxation from Sydney University

Keith has been attending Tax Institute events for around 15 years and over the last 10 years has contributed to the Institute by preparing articles and presenting at various events. Apart from tax, he loves spending time with his two beautiful daughters or keeping fit by running or cycling.


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