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  • Private Groups Stewardship Group key messages 2 December 2016

    Commissioner Chris Jordan's opening remarks

    • Welcomed the members to the inaugural meeting of the Private Groups Stewardship Group.
    • The Commissioner acknowledged the continued contribution and support of members who were part of the former Private Groups Stakeholder Group.
    • He acknowledged the progress made to date to improve the tax and super experience for privately owned and wealthy groups through the ATO’s reinvention program
    • The Commissioner stated the key role for members was being:
      • part of the transformational change
      • responsible as representatives of the privately owned and wealthy group segment, to bring to the ATO views and insights, as well as communicating and passing back messages from meetings.

    Update on Privately Owned and Wealthy Groups including, improving the client experience and the ATO’s transformation program

    Michael Cranston, Deputy Commissioner, Private Groups and High Wealth Individuals, ATO 

    Corporate tax transparency initiative

    • The corporate transparency report for 2014–15 is due to be released early December 2016.
    • The report will include Australian public and foreign owned companies with income of $100million or more and Australian owned resident private companies with an income of $200million or more.

    Panama Papers 

    • Significant progress has been made in dealing with those exposed in the Panama Papers who appear to have anomalies in their tax obligations.
    • We anticipate that as information continues to be shared across government and with international partners, and as the community continues to provide us with intelligence, we will see further action in the coming months.


    • An update on settlement of our disputes has recently been published on our website.

    Improving the client experience

    Lucy Libertone, Assistant Commissioner, Private Groups and High Wealth Individuals, ATO 

    • Provided an update on the progress of initiatives outlined on the Privately Owned and Wealthy Group Every Year Counts 2016-2017. Good progress has already been made on delivering on key initiatives to improve the client experience including the three key pieces work on which we will co-design and consult with privately owned groups and their advisers:
      • contemporary online excise experience
      • My client profile
      • whole of Government approach to resolve private group key issues
    • Members suggested there needs to be an improvement in the sharing of information between regulatory bodies.

    Tax and superannuation update

    Update on Tax Assurance for large privately owned and wealthy groups

    Greg Dick, Assistant Commissioner, Private Groups and High Wealth Individuals, ATO 

    • Private groups and their tax advisors told us they want certainty, timely interactions, better engagement and support to help them get it right
    • The ATO’s approach is to have ongoing professional and productive working relationships, real time interactions (prevention before correction) and to provide assurance /certainty where possible
    • The ATO is currently engaging one-on-one with the largest 320 privately owned groups

    Update on superannuation 

    James O’Halloran, Deputy Commissioner, Superannuation, ATO 

    • The Government’s superannuation reforms announced in the Federal Budget were passed by both houses of Parliament on 23 November 2016.
    • The Superannuation (Objective) Bill 2016, which will enshrine the objective of superannuation in legislation, is being considered by the Economics Legislative Committee. The committee is due to report on 14 February 2017.
    • Two draft law companion guidelines published on 24 November:
      • Transitional CGT relief;
      • Transfer balance cap

    Update on improving the refund process for GST

    Deborah Jenkins, Assistant Commissioner, Indirect Taxes, ATO 

    • A workshop was held on 5 July 2016 attended by members of the GST Stewardship group.
    • As a result, a number of improvements are being explored and implemented.
    • Additional work was undertaken to assist the community better understand the reasons why the ATO stops some refunds and what clients should consider before lodgement including examples of records and details clients need to provide the ATO if their refund gets stopped.  The ATO website and improved search functionality was updated on 22 October 2016.

    Law and policy update

    Treasury update

    Gerry Antioch, Division Head of Tax Framework Division, Revenue Group, The Treasury 

    • An update was provided by Treasury, including their strategic direction and priorities for the year ahead.
    • There was discussion on how law simplification could be addressed and the importance of looking at lessons learned from past.

    ATO review of fraud or evasion procedures and guidelines

    Martin Jacobs, Assistant Commissioner, Private Groups and High Wealth Individuals, ATO and Trevor Jones, Assistant Commissioner, Tax Counsel Network, ATO 

    • The ability of the Commissioner to make a fraud or evasion decision, when warranted, is an essential element of a fair tax system.
    • We are currently working to update PSLA 2008/6 and related guidelines.

    Rapid fact finding in the Private Groups market

    Justin Dearness, Assistant Commissioner (Acting), Private Groups and High Wealth Individuals, ATO 

    • The ATO is exploring the use of rapid fact finding processes as an assurance tool for privately owned groups.
    • There was general agreement that it would be suitable to further test these processes, and that they may be of benefit if they did not increase costs for privately owned groups and were not in addition to the ATO’s normal program of work.

    Research and development

    Martin Jacobs, Assistant Commissioner, Private Groups and High Wealth Individuals, ATO 

    • The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has developed new guidance to help companies and tax advisors to correctly identify and register activities for the R&D Tax incentive. 
    • The new guidance has been prepared to assist companies undertaking R&D activities in the industries of software development, agriculture, building and construction and mining to avoid common errors in their self-assessment and can be found on their website.

    Review of private advice – including early engagement for advice

    Martin Jacobs, Assistant Commissioner, Private Groups and High Wealth Individuals, ATO 

    • Clients and their advisers can engage with the ATO early when seeking advice by contacting the ATO through an online call back request service or an early engagement request – see Engage with us for advice
    • Under the ‘Review of Private Advice’ program of work, the early engagement for advice service was extended to small businesses.
      Last modified: 23 Feb 2017QC 51373