Businesses should brace for an increase in tax disputes, including JobKeeper-related issues, says a national law firm’s latest big four hire.
Former big four partner warns of incoming COVID-19 tax disputes
Law firm Holding Redlich’s newly appointed tax controversy partner, Sue Williamson, believes the ATO’s evolving approach to debt collection and its audit activities should come as a warning of incoming compliance action.
“The ATO has not aggressively pursued tax reviews and audits during this period. However, that is likely to change as the need for revenue becomes a focus,” Ms Williamson said.
“In addition to the disputes that were evident before COVID-19, taxpayers can expect to see COVID-19-generated tax disputes including those relating to JobKeeper, the availability of tax losses and transfer pricing.
“The best way for taxpayers to deal with these issues is to act now to make sure that they have independently assessed the risks involved and determine whether they have sufficient evidence to support their position.”
Ms Williamson, a former tax partner at EY where she led the firm’s Melbourne tax controversy practice, joined Holding Redlich as a partner this week.
Holding Redlich Melbourne managing partner Howard Rapke said Ms Williamson’s appointment would bolster the firm’s initiatives in deploying specialist teams to lead the response to regulators.
“Sue is renowned for her ability to translate complex issues and apply technical and strategic advice that helps clients navigate the tax landscape,” Mr Rapke said.
“Her appointment is a significant addition to our national disputes practice.”
Ms Williamson, a member of the ATO dispute resolution working group, and a former president of the Tax Institute, said she was drawn to the law firm because of its expertise and independence.
“The Holding Redlich regulatory disputes team has exemplary skills on all dispute and litigation issues relating to disputes with regulators, including evidence gathering, legal professional privilege, alternative dispute resolution and dispute strategy,” she said.
“Importantly, the team brings an independent assessment to disputes, working with experts in related areas including tax, competition and intellectual property, to understand the underlying technical issues.”