Carmen McElwain
Partner, Melbourne
I lead MinterEllison’s national Tax Controversy practice. Building the pre-eminent team of its kind in Australia has been the result of sustained effort over the last 15 years.

As the firm often represents the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), our private sector clients are offered an unparalleled depth of experience and unique perspective.

My work is based on 25 years' experience managing all manner of ATO compliance enquiries, including early engagements, risk reviews and audits, as well as some of the most significant tax litigation in Australia.

I am recognised for my ability to engage and influence the ATO on behalf of my clients, to reach satisfactory conclusions to any tax controversy or dispute.

Career highlights

ATO matters

  • Represented large corporates and high-wealth individuals, as well as the ATO
  • Conducted or was responsible for the most significant tax cases in the Federal Court and High Court of Australia, especially in relation to tax avoidance and transfer pricing
  • Advised the ATO on transfer pricing cases and large transfer pricing audits
  • Acted as MinterEllison’s ATO client relationship partner, responsible for managing all matters conducted on behalf of the ATO, especially taxation appeals and complex debt recovery matters conducted nationally in the Federal Court, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), the High Court and various state supreme courts
  • Represented the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation in complex, high-profile recovery proceedings in Australia and overseas jurisdictions
  • Managed and conducted early neutral evaluations in major complex tax disputes
  • Advised the ATO on exercising access powers in various circumstances, including how to respond to claims for legal professional privilege
  • Chevron Australia Holdings Pty Ltd v Commissioner of Taxation – acted in Federal Court proceedings related to intra-group loans and transfer pricing
  • Deputy Commissioner v Philip Whiteman & Ors – advised on a matter involving illegal ‘phoenix’ activity, including applications to appoint provisional liquidators and wind up related companies on just and equitable grounds, and applications for freezing orders
  • Haritos v Commissioner of Taxation; Confidential v Commissioner of Taxation – acted on behalf of the Commissioner, with a successful outcome in AAT and Federal Court proceedings
  • Mitsui & Co (Australia) Ltd v Commissioner of Taxation – represented the Commissioner, obtaining favourable decisions in Federal Court proceedings and before the Full Federal Court
  • Federal Commissioner of Taxation v Spotless Services Ltd – appeared in a significant decision in relation to the non-inclusion of assessable income, resulting in significant clarification of the law
  • R & M Gashi v Commissioner of Taxation; Howard v Commissioner of Taxation – advised the ATO in significant Federal Court and Full Federal Court proceedings, and High Court appeals

Private sector matters

  • Worked with high-wealth individuals and large corporates, including large financial institutions, on overall tax risk management strategies
  • Conducted large transfer pricing audits on behalf of telecommunications, automotive, energy and resources, and infrastructure corporations
  • Facilitated early ATO engagements on behalf of large infrastructure, industrial chemicals and retail corporations, to achieve tax certainty on rulings and manage risk review audits


  • Listed in Legal 500 as a leading individual in 2017