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20 Jul 12 Senior Tax Counsel - Preamble – 20 July, 2012

The press this week was dominated by two issues in the tax space – the ATO’s 2012-13 Compliance Program and the release of Treasury’s Discussion Paper on “Improving access to company losses ”. Both of these matters are of significant interest to members. 
 
ATO 2012-13 Compliance Program
 
The press has been much-enamoured with discussions on which industries ended up on the ATO’s “hit-list” this year. However, aside from the headlines, there were many matters of significant interest to members in this year’s compliance program.
 
Examples include the ATO’s focus on:

  • Improving timely lodgment;
  • Tax agents fulfilling their own lodgment obligations;
  • “Inappropriate” outcomes in the context of trusts, division 7A, consolidation and other areas of the tax law; and
  • The new “trusts taskforce” being set-up in the context of Project Wickenby.

The compliance program represents a welcome effort by the ATO to set out areas of concern and focus for the upcoming income year and is a testament to the agency’s commitment to transparency and effective communication with taxpayers and tax agents.
 
Nevertheless this compliance program raises a host of questions for members. We will of course continue to consult with the ATO on these and other matters in the coming weeks and months to gain further insight and understanding on behalf of our members as to the ATO’s intentions and processes. 
 
Loss carry-back discussion paper
 
This week saw the release by our Assistant Treasurer of Treasury’s Discussion Paper on “Improving access to company losses”, that is, implementation of the loss carry-back measure announced just prior to Budget this year.  Members will recall that this followed the consultation process undertaken by the Business Tax Working Group.
 
While most of the details in the paper were expected, the inclusion of a proposed integrity measure akin to the current Continuity of Ownership and Same Business Tests was surprising. The Tax Institute advocated strongly in our submissions to the Business Tax Reform Working Group for these tests to be simplified if they are going to continue to be relevant, and will continue to do so in our submission on this Discussion Paper.
 
Please see below for details of other activities this week.
 
Regards
Robert Jeremenko CTA

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