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John became a tax lawyer when his father needed help. When his father’s lawyer and accountant were unable to help on some matters involving small business concessions, John, then a general practice lawyer in a small practice, stepped up. It was the start of what has become a career committed to solving tax and commercial issues faced by businesses and their owners.
John advises on business structuring, taxation, estate planning, trust and asset protection for privately owned businesses, families and high net worth individuals. John is also a leader in Australia’s tax sector with leadership positions at the Tax Institute.
His approach to working with clients is to “simplify the complex” so that they fully understand their matter and the steps needed to deliver successful outcomes. Clients know they are in good hands with John and take comfort knowing he’s available to discuss anything playing on their mind.
“Being able to unburden a client and remove a weight from their shoulders when they need help is what drives me. they know that I’m in the trenches with them every step of the way.”
Longstanding clients operated a multi-generational real estate business in a partnership of trusts. As part of their desire to modernise their structure to attract new talent and incentivise staff, they wanted to move to a corporate structure.
However, they did not want to disturb their real estate licence or third party contracts as they had been in place for a long time, in some instances decades. Using a stepped out plan to restructure the partners first, then the partnership, we were able to place a holding company over the structure which allowed the partnership to continue to deal with third parties but gave the owners a centralised ownership structure through a single company.
A leading utilities management service provider operating on the east coast of Australia required a restructure to allow an investment by a statutory body that identified synergies in the client business.
John was able to advise and implement a restructure of the client’s business structure which operated across two standalone companies to introduce a holding company. After the restructure, we continued to act for the client to negotiate the term sheet initially and subsequently the shareholder agreement, transaction documents and address matters arising from due diligence to allow the clients and statutory body to complete the deal in their required timeframe.
A large incorporated professional practice wanted to revisit its structure to move from what was essentially a goodwill practice in respect of its ordinary shares to a no-goodwill practice and to do so in a way that preserved value for its founding members that could be realised over a period of time and only trigger tax at the realisation time.
In addition, it was necessary to allow an issue of ordinary and dividend only shares for nominal value for incoming practitioners which could provide those practitioners with a sufficient interest so that dividends were ‘splittable’ (but subject to the ATO guidelines) and from the incorporated professional practice’s perspective those amounts would not be subject to payroll tax.
It was important from the client’s perspective that the ATO was involved and approved of the restructure prior to it being implemented. As a consequence, we worked with the ATO to fine-tune the restructure to ensure that it would achieve the client’s objectives but also withstand a review by the ATO.