29 Apr 11 Preamble - Friday 21 April 2011
Recently the Government released a discussion paper concerning 'Privilege in relation to tax advice'. This was further to an Australian Law Reform Commission report and recommendations dating back to 2007.
The paper investigates the merits of giving clients of professional tax advisers privilege for tax advice documents prepared for them, which currently have to be disclosed to the Tax Office during an audit. It effectively discusses the possible codification of the existing Tax Office Accountants' Concession.
Tax advisers play a key role in ensuring compliance with tax laws, so we need to ensure that communication between a client and their tax adviser is full and frank. That will only happen when there's no fear that those communications will need to be handed over to the Tax Commissioner. Extending professional privilege to advisers would not hurt the unique rights of officers of the court. Both client legal privilege and a new tax advice privilege could exist alongside one another.
Robert Jeremenko FTIA