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Increase in audit activity set for 2018

An increase in audit activity has been tipped for the new year as the ATO seeks to crackdown on the portfolios of wealthy taxpayers, says one industry lawyer.

Increase in audit activity set for 2018
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Brown Wright Stein Lawyers partner Geoff Stein believes the recent Paradise papers revelations will lead to the tax office conducting more audits in 2018.

The Paradise papers revelations explores 13.4 million documents around the workings of investors utilising international tax havens.

“I believe there will be more ATO audit activity. Some of this will be driven by the analysis of the Panama papers and the fallout from the Paradise papers, and some as the result of the more sophisticated modelling of wealthy Australians, with a particular focus on the property sector,” said Mr Stein.

“There will be a lot of headlines about attacks on multinational profit shifting, but no amended assessments.”

Looking ahead

Mr Stein also believes that as service offerings for firms become more homogenised, smaller accounting firms will have to specialise and market themselves in order to stand out.

“2018 will bring more varied service and consulting offerings to the big four and mid-tier firms,” said Mr Stein.

“At the top end this means big data analysis and smaller firms will promote particular specialties to differentiate themselves.”

Likewise, Sequel CFO chief executive David Boyar believes smaller firms will diversify to specific areas while leaning on strategic partnerships to expand their reach.

“Accountants will begin taking time to differentiate themselves with targeted messaging on websites and social media, which will help explain the value to potential clients and referral partners,” said Mr Boyar.

“Some firms will look to diversify and grow the compliance revenue base and focus on different types of advisory being wealth, general or specific business, compliance, and digital IT advisory.

“As this happens, we will start working together more through strategic partnerships, not just casual referrals, to help meet the growing needs of SME businesses.”

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