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On 24 March 2014 the OECD issued a Discussion Draft on BEPS Action 1: Address the Tax Challenges of the Digital Economy as part of the OECD's 15 point Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action Plan. Responses were due by 14 April 2014. In this Alert we consider the main issues and options for taxation reform raised in the Discussion Draft.
Treasury has recently released draft legislation for public comment, with the aim of significantly reducing compliance costs for business and improving business productivity generally. There is a five week consultation period, with submissions closing on 16 May 2014.
An Issues Paper has been released as part of the government's competition law and policy review announced by Minister for Small Business, Bruce Billson in December 2013. Panellists have since been appointed and a wide-ranging Terms of Reference released in late March 2014.
Australia's conclusion of two free trade deals with South Korea and Japan this week are likely to present significant opportunities in the agricultural sector, and reflect an increasing interest in Australian agriculture from overseas parties.
The Queensland Government has unveiled a series of amendments to be made to the Building and Construction Industry Payments Act 2004 (BCIPA). The reforms are intended to come into effect later this year. This marks the next step in the plan aimed at overhauling the state's building regulations, driven by the government's commitment to developing the construction industry as one of the 'four pillars' of the Queensland economy.
The NSW Government has announced that the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Amendment Act 2013 will commence on 21 April 2014. Construction contracts entered into from 21 April 2014 (other than certain residential building work) will be subject to the SOPA Amendments.
We look at what's in store for trade mark law in 2014, and provide a snapshot of the headline cases from the previous year. Going forward, we expect to see the High Court considering the test for 'distinctiveness' in the Cantarella and Modena dispute, the practical implications of the recent amendments to the Trade Marks Act in full swing, and potential changes in search engine strategies for companies as a result of the High Court's decision in Google v ACCC.
On 3 April 2014, the Full Federal Court issued its judgment in Commissioner of Taxation v Resource Capital Fund III LP overturning the Federal Court's judgment. This case is significant because the main issue it considers relates to the treatment of a partnership that is tax transparent in one jurisdiction and taxable in another, and the application of a double tax treaty.
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.