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Feature article - The Windfall Granted To Students in High Court Decision Under Attack by New Legislation
Contributed by Annette Morgan FTIA • Accountant at Curtin University • Perth, Prof. Dale Pinto FTIA • Professor of Taxation Law at Curtin University • Perth and Colleen Mortimer FTIA • Lecturer of Curtin University • Perth
This article reviews new legislation proposed by the Government to disallow deductions against any government assistance payments received by taxpayers. The article will revisit the facts of the High Court's decision of Anstis in which a taxpayer successfully challenged the Commissioner to the right to claim self education costs against her Youth Allowance payments. It will then examine the actions taken by the government after the High Court decision by allowing taxpayers to claim a predetermined amount for self-education expenses against government payments for the years 2007 to 2010 and to claim actual expenditure for the 2011 year. The proposed legislation aims to disallow any claims from 1 July 2011, meaning that students and other recipients of government assistance payments will no longer be able to offset any expenditure they incur against these payments.
 Commissioner of Taxation v Anstis (2010) 241 CLR 443; (2010) 76 ATR 735; 2010 ATC 20-221
Read this article in full
Sample exam question
Contributed by Ian Murray FTIA • Lawyer of Blake Dawson • Perth
Mrs City (who runs a pub in Perth) goes to Augusta for a holiday. While there, she sees a double block of land for sale which has a nice view over the Blackwood river. Mrs City thinks that the land would be perfect for her dream home and, as she is retiring and has no children, decides that it would be nice to have some people around her by leasing out the excess land.
The next day, Mrs City has coffee with a friend (in the real estate industry) who suggests that she fence off one of the blocks, put in a garden and lease out 1 or 2 plots to short term campers. Mrs City and her friend use the back of a napkin to make some calculations about the likely income from these activities. hey conclude that the activities should be cash-flow positive in the second year. Mrs City also checks with the Augusta Shire Council whether a licence is required.
That evening Mrs City compares the projected income from the extra land against the amount of interest that she would earn if she sold the extra land and deposited an amount equal to the value of the excess land with a bank. She jots down these numbers in a scrapbook along with her resolution to conduct an annual review of the activities and to sell the excess land if, after a 3 year period, the actual income proves to be less than 75% of the interest she would otherwise have earned.
The following day Mrs City signs a contract to purchase the land for $1.5 million plus legal fees of $10,000 and stamp duty of $65,000 and arranges for the house to be built. 1 year later, once their house has been completed, Mrs City places an advertisement in the local South West newspaper and on a sign on the verge. She has 7 campers over the next year. Accordingly, Mrs City fails to meet the 75% threshold for the year.
In the following year, Mrs City has a similar number of campers, but, at the request of several of the campers, she also sells 2 small portions of the excess land (10% of the total land) to those campers to use as holiday shacks for $250,000 each.
One hour answer time.
Which of the following amounts might form part of Mrs City's assessable income?
(a) Rent from campers in the first or second year of renting the land
(b) 2 x $250,000 from sale of excess land
Do NOT consider the CGT small business concessions or the main residence exemption.
See the suggested solutions for this sample exam question.
Young practitioner profile
Name - Nathan Webb
Employer - M Squared & Associates Pty Ltd
Position - Manager
Member Since - 2008
Nathan Webb began his accounting career in 2006 in the Corporate Tax field at mid to large tier firms, before joining M Squared as an inaugural staff member when it was first established in late 2007. He has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Curtin University, specialising in Accounting and Business Law, and was the co-founder of the Curtin Commerce Club, the largest student society at Curtin University. He a Fellow of The Tax Institute and currently serves on the Membership and Services Committee. He is also a qualified member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants.
Describe your current role
His main work focus is advising clients in the areas of corporate and international taxation, primarily to the oil and gas and mining industries. He also specialises in expatriate taxation, Fringe Benefits Tax ('FBT'), Capital Gains Tax ('CGT') and business structuring.
Describe your Tax Institute committee or contributing involvement (if applicable)
Currently a member of the membership and services committee which involves generating innovative ideas to drive membership as well as plan and organise social and networking events for the Tax Institute.
What are your career highlights?
Being an inaugural part of the birth and growth of a dynamic accounting firm, M Squared.
Why did you join The Tax Institute?
The Tax Institute provides invaluable technical support, events and opportunities to network with your colleagues and peers.
What advice can you give to graduates?
Work hard, play hard. An oldie but a goodie!
What do you do to unwind?
The Wolf of Wall Street! Perfect example of the work hard, play hard philosophy.
Favourite holiday destination
Searching the world for the perfect Sangria recipe.
Recent tax cases of interest
There are a variety of websites which contain useful information on tax in the following areas:
- Austlii - Federal and State legislation
- ComLaw - Official Australian Government site, including Acts
- ATO – extremely useful site, containing:
- Public rulings and determinations
- ATO interpretive decisions
- NTLG minutes
- Tax, superannuation and related legislation
- EM's and second reading speeches
- Federal Parliament - Bills, EM's and Second Reading speeches
The Treasury and Ministry Websites
These organisations produce tax-related publications and/or education courses. A subscription is needed for access.
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Being a member of The Tax Institute will ensure you have access to the best tax education products and services available to the tax profession, as well as enable you to gain exposure to future employers and mentors from around the country.
Membership of the Institute is essential for anyone who is serious about a career in tax.
For a full list of benefits to members, click here.
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