John Russell
Special Counsel, Melbourne
I am a specialist tax lawyer with a particular expertise in GST. While I have clients across a range of industries, I have a particular focus on property, government and major infrastructure projects. My experience extends to advising on complex transactions, negotiating agreements, engaging with the ATO on significant reviews and M&A transactions.

I am focussed on understanding my clients' needs and helping them to navigate the complex world of tax by providing clear, commercial advice. I enjoy understanding commercial drivers and working with my clients to ensure that tax is managed appropriately within their businesses while still achieving their commercial goals. I used a solutions-focussed mindset to distil complex tax issues and convey them in a way that is easy for my clients to understand and implement, making tax one less issue for them to worry about.

Career highlights

  • ATO Justified Trust Reviews - I have guided a number of large Australian taxpayers through ATO 'Streamlined Assurance Reviews', which are comprehensive reviews of Australia's largest 1,000 taxpayers.
  • Tax Governance – have developed a deep understanding of the ATO's expectations around tax governance, and have assisted clients to develop / improve their existing tax governance framework to bring it into line with ATO expectations (as this is a key area of ATO focus).
  • Government Social Housing – key GST advisor to a number of State and Territory government housing bodies throughout Australia, advising on a range of social housing issues, including arrangements with Community Housing Providers. Have acted on behalf of clients in various ATO engagements / disputes and achieved favourable outcomes for my clients.
  • Development Victoria – advised on major developments such as Melbourne's Docklands and in managing the introduction of the GST withholding regime.
  • The University of Melbourne – advised on the development and construction of the 'Carlton Connect Initiative', a precinct comprising an innovation and industry collaboration hub for the University and graduate student accommodation facility.
  • VicRoads / Major Road Projects Victoria – advised on the GST implications for the State in relation to major road infrastructure projects.
  • ATO reviews - have acted on behalf of many clients in ATO reviews / disputes, ranging from small, single issue reviews to full scale audits.