Senior Tax Counsel Report
Preamble - Friday 13 April
Hot off the press, members are currently receiving this month’s ‘Blue Journal’: Taxation in Australia. The cover article is entitled ‘A long innings’ and is the valedictory address by Kevin Fitzpatrick FTIA, former Chief Tax Counsel at the ATO. We are extremely grateful that Kevin chose to publish his address in the Blue Journal and his frank assessments are sure to be of interest to members.
We share many of Kevin’s concerns, especially in relation to the ATO’s handling of litigation and subsequent interpretation of precedential case law. Recent litigation outcomes on several fronts, including Part IVA and transfer pricing, serve to highlight the importance of choosing, advancing and interpreting the right cases. The wrong cases lead to even more uncertain law, which can give rise to (otherwise avoidable) legislative changes. Tax professionals need certain legal interpretation and administration in order to better interact with the system.
We also concur that Treasury is under-resourced for their integral tax policy role. As noted in our pre-budget submission, Treasury should be exempt from the government’s ‘efficiency dividend’ ensuring it is adequately resourced to engage in essential consultation on tax reform.
I encourage you to read Kevin’s entire address in the Blue Journal.
Robert Jeremenko FTIA