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The MLI – Australia’s other income tax treaty


Australia has 44 comprehensive bilateral agreements affecting our income tax laws, and from 1 January 2019, the multilateral instrument (MLI) began operation. The MLI is another multilateral treaty which Australia signed as a means of fast-tracking some of the changes Australia agreed to as part of the OECD/G-20 BEPS project. The MLI is an awkward instrument: it will affect discrete and often trivial segments of our treaties; it affects only some of our existing bilateral treaties, others will remain unaffected; it operates from various dates; it will gradually become redundant; and working out exactly what it changes is not straightforward. This article provides an overview of the MLI, which of our treaties it affects, which provisions in those treaties will be affected, and how it will change those treaties. Tracking the impacts of the MLI on Australian law will be an arduous process that will plague practitioners for years.

Author profile

Prof Graeme Cooper FTI
Photo of author, Graeme Cooper FTI Prof. Graeme Cooper, FTI, is Professor of Taxation Law at the University of Sydney and a consultant to Greenwoods & Herbert Smith Freehills. He is a former Chair of the New South Wales State Council of The Tax Institute and former member of the National Council. He has worked as a consultant to the ATO, Treasury, Board of Taxation, United Nations, OECD, World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and several foreign governments. He was admitted to legal practice in New South Wales and Victoria, and practised commercial law and tax in Sydney before entering teaching. He has taught in law schools in Australia, Europe and the United States, and holds degrees from the University of Sydney, University of Illinois and Columbia University, New York. - Current at 31 October 2019
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