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The business tax landscape in Australia is highly complex and rapidly evolving. Business entities, individuals and foreign investors are facing unprecedented levels of regulatory compliance and scrutiny by government and revenue authorities.

The advent of tax technology and automatic exchange of information between Australian and foreign revenue authorities has significantly increased the focus on identifying the economic substance of business activity in Australia. This presents new challenges in relation to tax compliance, disclosure of information and tax governance. Federal Government is increasing its focus on the regulation of multinationals, with recent legislative changes affecting foreign investments in Australia having far reaching implications for private groups and high wealth individuals. The requirement to seek FIRB approval for an increasing number of investments, the introduction of foreign purchaser surcharge taxes in a number of state jurisdictions, and the introduction of the foreign capital gains tax withholding regime, all serve to complicate the compliance landscape for local and foreign investors alike.

HWL Ebsworth’s national tax team simplify the complex tax environment and provide practical insight to the context which tax issues arise to assist clients with the commercial objectives of a business enterprise.

Our team has broad commercial experience having acted across a range of transactions over many years, as well as experience working in major international accounting firms, the Australian Taxation Office and state revenue offices. This allows our tax lawyers to provide invaluable insight to negotiating with other parties and dealing with revenue authorities.

We have excellent professional relationships with revenue authorities and our rate of success in tax and revenue disputes is a testament to the team’s technical expertise and practical approach.

Our expertise includes:

  • Income tax, capital gains tax and international tax
  • Indirect taxes such as stamp duty and GST
  • Employment taxes including employee share schemes and employee share trust structures
  • The effective use of structures including discretionary, unit and hybrid trusts, corporate entities, joint ventures and partnerships
  • Estate and wealth planning, including wills, testamentary trusts and probate issues, as well as succession planning and business restructures
  • Tax disputes, including tax audits and enquiries, objections, negotiating settlements and appeals in the state and federal courts as well as to the High Court of Australia
  • Dealing with foreign investment regulatory issues, such as Foreign Investment Review Board applications and AUSTRAC transactions
  • Asian investment, with lawyers fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese and other Chinese dialects.

Our partners have broad commercial experience having acted for clients in an extensive range of transactions over many years.  This gives us an insight into the context in which tax issues arise, not merely in an intellectual technical vacuum but rather within the wider context of the enterprise.  A number of our team members have worked in major accounting firms, the Australian Taxation Office and state revenue offices. Their experience provides an invaluable insight in dealing with revenue authorities and negotiating with other parties.  Our rate of success in disputes with authorities is a testament to the team’s technical expertise and commercial acumen.


  • The owners in the restructure of a group of entities in preparation for the sale of 50% interest in the entities for in excess of $50 million utilising multiple capital gains tax rollovers and GST exemptions;
  • The taxpayer in its successful appeal against the Commissioner of Taxation in the Federal Court in the case of Rosgoe Pty Ltd v FCT [ 2015] FCA 1231;
  • The vendors on successful negotiations with the Australian Taxation Office in respect of the capital gains tax treatment of the proceeds of sale of business by the vendors of a FMCG business comprising numerous household brands, including extensive analysis of the market value of intellectual property associated with these brands;
  • A public unlisted tax consolidated group on all aspects of tax consolidation over a 5 year period – formation, joining, ACA, tax losses (transfer, utilisation, continuity of ownership test, same business test), available fractions, and deconsolidation;
  • The vendor on the tax and corporate compliance issues involved with the acquisition of a $0.5 billion stake in a large Australian (private) group by an international investor;
  • Numerous high net worth private groups (with both local and international business operations) achieving successful outcomes in disputes with the Australian Taxation Office and state revenue offices; and
  • A trustee of a significant discretionary trust in having Supreme Court extend the vesting date of the trust thereby avoiding significant tax and duty liability.

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