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The Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA) has been amended, heralding significant changes to the way financial planners are regulated. Financial planners will need to understand the boundaries between providing purely financial product advice and a tax (financial) advice service, and to determine whether they need to register with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) as Registered (Tax) Financial Advisers from 1 July 2014.
Today the Minister for Small Business, the Hon Bruce Billson MP, released an exposure draft of amendments to the Franchising Code of Conduct and relevant provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 for public consultation. The substantial amendments in the draft Code confer new rights on franchisees and increase the regulatory and compliance obligations of franchisors.
The Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee (CAMAC) has released a broad discussion paper to review the establishment and management of schemes, which opens up all aspects of the legislative structure. This is a continuation of the review which produced the CAMAC July 2012 Report, and may provide a useful indication of the issues that the Financial System Inquiry will consider in relation to managed investment schemes.
The Regional Planning Interests Act 2014 (Qld) passed the Queensland Parliament on 20 March 2014 and is expected to commence mid year. The Act seeks to manage the impact of resource activities and other 'regulated activities' on areas of regional interest, and to promote the coexistence of resource and regulated activities with other activities, such as agriculture.
2014 is already shaping up to be a big year in the world of patents. In anticipation of what's to come, we've taken the opportunity to reflect on and examine the trends emerging from 2013, which was also a bumper year for patents in Australia.
The Ministry of Commerce issued the Guideline on Overseas Intellectual Property Rights for Enterprises for trial implementation on 8 February 2014. The Guideline aims to encourage Chinese enterprises to proactively protect their rights by providing greater protection for Intellectual Property Rights for overseas investments, and through mechanisms designed to promptly resolve IP disputes.
The Queensland Parliament's consideration of the Regional Planning Interests Bill has progressed. Today the government released an Exposure Draft of the Regulation to accompany the Bill, as well as the government's response to a Parliamentary Committee's report on the Bill.
The government has released a consultation paper on a proposed Exploration Development Incentive allowing junior exploration companies to renounce their exploration losses and 'distribute' this 'benefit' to their members in the form of a refundable tax offset - an Exploration Credit. The Incentive is intended to apply to expenditure made after 1 July 2014.
The federal government has released exposure draft legislation which restates the 'in Australia' special condition. This special condition must be met by entities accessing tax concessions such as income tax exemption and by entities which have deductible gift recipient status.
The NSW Supreme Court decision in Video Ezy International Pty Ltd v Sedema Pty Ltd  NSWSC 143 demonstrates that courts are prepared to take a tough line on franchisors, rejecting technical legal arguments about the construction of agreements relating to the franchise relationship.
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has released the final APP Guidelines in time for the start of the new Australian Privacy Principles, which will apply to Commonwealth government agencies and many private organisations from 12 March 2014. We revisit the key issues previously raised in the draft Guidelines and provide an update on how the guidance has changed.
Last Friday, Justice Logan of the Federal Court handed down the much anticipated decision in Australian Building Systems Pty Ltd v Commissioner of Taxation  FCA 116.
On 13 February 2014, Justice Davies of the Federal Court of Australia handed down her decision in Australian Securities and Investment Commission v Franklin, in the matter of Walton Construction Pty Ltd (in liq), dismissing an application by ASIC to remove the liquidators of the subject companies because of an apprehension that they may lack independence and impartiality. The decision provides useful guidance for insolvency practitioners in determining whether they satisfy the requirement of independence and impartiality and what needs to be disclosed in a DIRRI.
Recently the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) released a package of governance measures for banks, and general and life insurance companies. The new measures include Prudential Standard CPS 220 Risk Management, which will commence on 1 January 2015.
The Federal Government has released the final report of the Productivity Commission's inquiry into the National Access Regime in particular Part IIIA of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. While there are no changes to the regulatory framework or institutional arrangements, the report does recommend a package of reforms designed to ensure the scope of the Regime is confined to those exceptional circumstances.
The Victorian Government (government) has released its long awaited Unsolicited Proposal Guideline (Guideline). The Guideline provides a framework for the government's assessment and implementation of infrastructure proposals that originate directly from the private sector.
The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) Final Report into Copyright and the Digital Economy (Final Report) is now publicly available, having been tabled in Parliament on 13 February 2014. The report was finalised after receiving more than 1,000 submissions and undertaking more than 100 consultations with stakeholders.
In the recent decision of Bondi Beachside Pty Ltd v Chief Commissioner of State Revenue  NSWCA 6 the New South Wales Supreme Court of Appeal has allowed the taxpayer's appeal against the earlier decision which in part affirmed a mortgage duty assessment issued under the Duties Act 1997 (NSW). If you have paid duty on the extension of a deferred note purchase financing arrangement, you may be entitled to a refund of the duty.
A further tranche of tax legislation to exempt 'IMR foreign funds' from Australian income tax has been released for public comment. Once enacted, this legislation will introduce an exemption from Australian tax for 'widely held' foreign funds and their investors. The IMR regime provides greater certainty to IMR foreign funds and investors around their Australian tax position. However, the key to accessing this certainty is in understanding and confirming that the IMR foreign fund is indeed eligible.
The Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews, confirmed that the federal government will move to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), and replace it with a Centre of Excellence focused on education for not-for-profits, charitable bodies and for the community.