find the latest legal job
Corporate/Commercial Lawyers (2-5 years PAE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Specialist commercial law firm · Long-term career progression
View details
Graduate Lawyer / Up to 1.5 yr PAE Lawyer
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Mentoring Opportunity in Regional QLD · Personal Injury Law
View details
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
The Henry tax review: where have we come to?

The Henry tax review: where have we come to?

The long awaited report of the Henry tax review and the Government's response to it was released last Sunday with much fanfare. Mallesons Stephen Jaques experts ask, what will change?

By Andrew Clements and Kai-Chen Chang, Mallesons Stephen Jaques

The long awaited report of the Henry tax review (Report) and the Government’s response to it was released last Sunday with much fanfare. Evocatively titled Australia’s Future Tax System, preceded by media lockdowns and at the colossal size of over 1,309 pages, the Report and the Government’s response to it promised much, not only for Australia’s tax community, but all Australian individuals, families and businesses.

It seems an opportune time to reflect and consider: What will change? What will the Report mean for lawyers generally or tax lawyers in particular?

Based on the Government’s response, the answer for many appears to be, in the short term, “not much”. The Report does provide a clear indication of a Treasury “blueprint” for tax reform in the future.

Although the Report makes approximately 138 recommendations for reform, the Government’s response appears to adopt only around 10 of the recommendations made in the Report.

The Government’s response does not appear to be the “root and branch” approach that was advocated in the Report. The Government has adopted a number of the important recommendations from the Report, but has largely eschewed adopting some of the more controversial recommendations.

The Report’s and the Government’s response to it, necessarily operate on a high level, policy-based plane. Businesses and individuals are, at this stage, likely to be performing preliminary assessments of how the proposed changes are likely to impact on their affairs. But as always, the “devil” for tax reform lies in the detail.

It will take some time for the Government to determine how its response will be implemented and drafted. We would not expect Australian businesses and individuals to be immediately making significant changes to their operations and activities until further certainty and detail is available regarding the measures.

The Report does offer some useful guidance to Australian tax lawyers and practitioners regarding the direction for future tax reform, development and administration.

One of the areas of focus of the Report was the governance on the Australian tax system. The Report emphasises the need for greater community consultation prior to making significant tax reforms. It recommends an expansion of the existing roles of review and oversight bodies that are independent from the ATO in the Australian tax system, such as the Board of Taxation, Inspector-General of Taxation, the Australian National Audit Office and the Commonwealth Ombudsman. It also recommends a new body be established to advise the ATO on the general organisation and management of the ATO.

It is hoped that the Report’s consideration and scrutiny of these issues will raise awareness of the importance of the governance aspects of the Australian tax system.

Perhaps the most valuable aspect of the Report is that it now essentially acts as a potential “shopping list” for future reforms over the coming years. It is hard to anticipate that any significant amendments to the overall policy design of the Australian tax system to be made without consulting or relying on the comprehensive recommendations made in the Report.

This raises questions regarding previous reviews of the Australian tax system that have been undertaken, to the extent they are inconsistent with the Henry recommendations. For example, the status of the recommendations made in the Johnson report, regarding Australia as a financial centre, is uncertain, as it is not clear whether the Government intends to pursue the Henry reforms in preference to the Johnson recommendations.

Andrew Clements is a tax partner and Kai-Chen Chang is a tax solicitor at Mallesons Stephen Jaques, Melbourne.



Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

The Henry tax review: where have we come to?
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Lawyers welcome same-sex marriage reform
06:05
Lawyers welcome same-sex marriage reform
Australian lawyers have welcomed the recent legalisation of same-sex marriage, after a prolonged nat...
Senate disallows double standards for temporary visa holders
Dec 8 2017
Senate disallows double standards for temporary visa holders
Lawyers have welcomed the Senate’s rejection of regulations imposing strict penalties on temporary...
Handcuffs, freedom
Dec 7 2017
Queensland clocks up more breach of bail offences
A new report about sentencing trends in Queensland shows the number of offenders who have been sente...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...