William Buck Australia
As a fully integrated firm of Chartered Accountants and advisors, William Buck provides a complete solution. Putting you at the core of the business, our advisors work together to ensure that careful consideration is given to your business and personal wealth affairs.
Working closely with you and your team, our Business Advisors can help you plan and implement contemporary business strategies and practices to meet your business’s full potential.
Our commercially minded tax specialists offer clear, responsive advice to manage your tax risk, address local and international issues, and develop strategies to optimise your tax position.
Our audit team has extensive experience in a range of engagements, giving stakeholders independent and objective assurance on financial information, transactions and processes.
Our Corporate Advisory team provides objective, strategic and commercial advice across a broad range of business issues. Our work spans the breadth each engagement from the origination of ideas to managing the transaction process, valuation and structuring.
Our highly experienced team of liquidators and trustees use their extensive expertise to assist in times of financial distress, achieving the best outcome for all stakeholders.
By understanding not only what you want to achieve but why it’s important, our wealth advisors can create strategies attuned to your key priorities. The end result is a plan focused on your life goals.
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William Buck has a team of professionals with specialist experience and know-how on a range of industry sectors.
Our advisors understand the risks and opportunities unique to the agribusiness sector. Taking a strategic view of your operations they provide relevant guidance and advice.
Assisting public and private schools, vocational colleges, universities and private training providers, our education specialists provide timely and valuable assurance services together with strategic, financial and management advice.
Our Government and public sector team has substantial experience in assisting all levels of government to review their structures and develop strategies, in line with relevant legislative requirements and accounting and audit standards.
Working with over 1,600 clients in the health sector, our advisors help practitioners and health care corporates achieve their business and personal goals
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By staying on top of changes in the manufacturing sector, our industry experts provide relevant and timely guidance to a broad range of manufacturing business.
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Integrity and transparency are at the heart of the best Not for Profit organisations. These values re shared by our dedicated Not for Profit team, which helps entities to establish to improve performance and develop strategies for long-term growth.
Our advisors understand the challenges and opportunities facing the professional services sector first hand. This experience together with our expertise helps to determine your strategic objectives and provide concise, relevant advice to help you achieve your goals.
Our property and construction team assist on a wide range of assignments from property development to construction and large infrastructure projects. Their diverse experience, technical expertise and commercial know-how to help you tackle the important issues.
Our retail and wholesale team works with a variety of businesses from family owned operations to franchises and larger chains, to provide advice and guidance on the issues that count.
With the skills to help tech companies grow from startup to exit – we provide tailored tech company solutions, supported by access to a range of specialists across numerous service lines and industries.
Our transport and distribution team works with businesses to review their operations, improve efficiency and productivity and ensure compliance with the latest regulatory developments.
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We work with individuals, businesses and community organisations with a particular focus on the mid-market. Drawing on our extensive experience, our advisors will challenge your thinking and re-frame problems to understand their root-cause.
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It is often assumed that payroll tax grouping only applies in the context of related parties. While this may serve as a starting point in considering grouping matters, recent court decisions have shown how easily companies and trusts which are not commonly owned can be grouped for payroll tax purposes. The implications of this can be quite significant, including the denial of payroll tax thresholds for some entities and the imposition of penalties where the grouping rules have been incorrectly applied.
Payroll tax grouping laws seek to aggregate multiple entities for the purpose of determining their payroll tax liability. Entities that are grouped for payroll tax can only claim one tax free threshold between them and are jointly and severally liable for any outstanding payroll tax.
In the context of related parties, often the related companies or common control provisions are most relevant. However, the broadness of the payroll tax grouping provisions has been highlighted in a number of recent cases where the Commissioner has been successful in grouping entities via the common employee provision. One alarming aspect of the common employee provisions is that there is no minimum level of ownership or control required in order to form a group – two arm’s length parties could be grouped under this provision.
While the specific wording can vary across different states, grouping of two entities under the common employee rules can broadly apply in the following circumstances:
The last of the situations outlined above is extremely broad and can catch not only formal, written arrangements but also unwritten, informal or implied arrangements.
The aspect that is often misunderstood is the significance of the third situation outlined above. Because the provision is to be interpreted so broadly, the default position will often be that two or more unrelated entities end up being grouped for payroll tax purposes. It is then up to the respective entity to argue out of the grouping provisions.
Where two or more entities would ordinarily be grouped, the Chief Commissioner has the power to exclude one (or more) of the entities from a particular group. While a number of conditions will need to be met in order for the exclusion to be granted, a key aspect often relates to the businesses being carried on independently of, and not connected with the carrying on of, the businesses of other members of that group. This will be based on the Chief Commissioner having regard to:
In the recent Lombard Farms1 case, the Judicial Member construed the ‘independently of’ and ‘not connected with’ aspects of the test to require no connection at all and a complete independence between group businesses.
However, on appeal, the Tribunal Members felt that this interpretation was too strict and that the test is a matter of judgment, or degree, rather than requiring no connection and complete independence. Accordingly, the Tribunal Members have remitted the case back to the court to rule on Lombard Farms’ circumstances based on a less strict interpretation of the ‘independence’ and ‘connection’ aspects.
Whether two or more businesses are significantly independent and not connected is a matter of fact. The Chief Commissioner has indicated that the following matters will generally be taken into account when considering whether to exercise his discretion to exclude two or more entities from the grouping provisions:
It should be noted that de-grouping relief is generally not available where the grouping has occurred due to direct common control of over 50%.
Even if it is possible to demonstrate that an entity carries on its business independently of, and not connected with, other group members (and hence the entities shouldn’t be grouped), it is still possible that the contractor provisions can apply to include for payroll tax purposes any inter-entity transactions.
Separate contractor related rules and exemptions are available which would need to be considered on an entity by entity basis.
Should you require further information in relation to payroll tax matters, please contact your local William Buck advisor.
Lombard Farms Pty Ltd v The Chief Commissioner of State Revenue  NSWADT 17; Lombard Farms Pty Ltd v Chief Commissioner of State Revenue  NSWADTAP 42