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July 23, 2021 - Webb Martin Consulting Pty Ltd

This article is PrimeGlobal Australian member firm Webb Martin Consulting's contribution to the International Accounting Bulletin Australia survey, published in IAB's July newsletter. Please read the full article below and reach out to Simon Calabria, Director regarding any questions in relation to the article and doing business in Australia.

Webb Martin Consulting is a specialist tax advisory firm based in Melbourne, Australia. Our client base covers a broad spectrum from individuals to multinational but also includes a significant number of accounting firms in Australia.

To assist us with our responses to the IAB's survey questions, we canvassed responses from some of our accounting firm clients in an attempt to provide a broader response. By way of context, the size of the firms vary from sole practitioner's through to larger firms just below the second tier.

How do your clients feel about the measures included in the May 2021 budget?

Other positive measure included the changes to the superannuation work test and the low and middle income tax offset (LMITO) extension.

Otherwise, however, it appeared a little light compared to past budgets.

From our viewpoint, there still appears to be an appetite in the business community for real tax reform, not just tinkering around the edges.

Was the expansion of the loan guarantee scheme for pandemic-hit businesses a welcome development?

It would appear not. Based on the responses provided by some of our clients none of their clients used or participated in this scheme

Could you give us an update on the parliamentary inquiry into regulation of auditing?

This is an interesting question. It mainly appears to affect the larger firms that have dedicated auditing teams. For small/medium accounting practices many of their clients either are not required to undertake financial audits, and even through their superannuation fund clients are required to be audited these are essentially outsourced to other forms (for independence).

Being a tax specialist firm this is also not something that affects us directly, other than to state that auditing by its very nature should be undertaken in an environment where all parties relying on the outcomes can do so with confidence.

Last year we reported that CPA Australia, CA ANZ and the IPA were reviewing the frameworks that regulate how tax advice is provided in Australia – have there been any improvements in this area?

Nothing appears to have changed over the past 12 months in terms of actions from the peak accounting bodies referred to, and certainly no changes that have affected our practice or the practices of our accounting firm client base.

There does appear to have been an increased focus by the Tax Practitioner Board (TPB), in reviewing and sanctioning inappropriate behaviour - whether by parties unregistered to provide tax advice or by rogue advisers.

More recently the TPB released an exposure draft regarding tax advisers obtaining proof of identity requirements (POI) for client verification. This appears to be consistent with similar initiatives in other jurisdictions to combat anti-money laundering and counter terrorism rules.

Otherwise, there is always the ongoing tension between those various different parties that are able to provide tax advice - lawyers, registered tax agents and other allowed to provide tax advice via an exemption (e.g. financial advisers). To a lesser extent there is also the need to ensure that registered tax agents that are not also lawyers do not inadvertently venture into providing legal advice.

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Webb Martin Consulting Pty Ltd

Webb Martin Consulting is an independent source of quality tax advisory services. We offer a unique approach to dealing with complex tax issues, using a range of skills and experiences drawn from the Big 4 accounting firms, law firms, the ATO and Public Practice. Our experience and knowledge enables us to provide the association with a unique resource to assist in the resolution of Australian tax issues. Our team has a depth and breadth of tax knowledge that comes from regularly dealing with issues across almost all tax areas. These services include the provision of verbal & written advice, negotiation, objections & appeals, private rulings, prudential reviews and assistance with ATO audits & reviews.

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