Insolvency practitioners cleared to provide tax and BAS agent services

 BAS, Corporate Insolvency, Insolvency practices, Personal Bankruptcy, Returns, Taxation Issues  Comments Off on Insolvency practitioners cleared to provide tax and BAS agent services
Jul 202012

Liquidators who provide a tax agent or BAS service to the company they are administering do not have to be registered as tax agents or BAS agents.

That is the ruling issued by the Tax Practitioners Board on 26 June 2012 in its Information Sheet TPB(1) 12/2012.

The same rule applies to most other types of insolvency practitioners appointed under the Corporations Act or the Bankruptcy Act.


But the rule, or exemption, only applies to work done for the client after the insolvency practitioner’s appointment.  During the pre-appointment period the ban on unregistered persons providing a tax agent service or a BAS service for a fee or reward will apply.

The insolvency practitioners exempted under the ruling are liquidators, provisional liquidators, company administrators, administrators of deeds of company arrangement, receivers, receivers and managers, and bankruptcy trustees.

But the exemption might not apply to insolvency practitioners who act as agents for mortgagees in possession.  On one reading of the Information Sheet it seems that because such insolvency practitioners are not agents of the company (as are liquidators, administrators and receivers) then they might not be performing the tax/BAS agent services “in accordance with the duties and responsibilities of the insolvency practitioner under the terms of the relevant legislation” in a situation “analogous to that of a self-preparing entity”.  (See paras. 20 and 21.)

The Information Sheet also addresses the situation where, during the post-appointment period, an insolvency practitioner “bring(s) in outside consultants such as accountants or bookkeepers to deal with the entity’s tax or BAS issues”.  The Tax Practitioners Board says that such consultants would need to be registered.

In other words, the exemption only applies where the insolvency practitioners or his or her employees carry out the tax work.

To see the TPB Information Sheet CLICK HERE.

Jul 182012

How should the public interest test be applied?

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has released a consultation paper outlining how it intends to implement its new power to wind up companies.

Recent amendments to the Corporations Act have given ASIC the power to order the wind up a company in specific circumstances and appoint a liquidator.  The Corporations Amendment (Phoenixing and Other Measures) Act 2012 amends the Corporations Act to add a new part to Chapter 5 – External Administrations.  The new part (Part 5.4C) – which comprises new sections 489EA, 489EB and 489EC – gives ASIC the power to wind up companies in FOUR scenarios:


ASIC may order a winding up if:

 (a)  the response to a return of particulars given to the company is at least 6 months late; and
 (b)  the company has not lodged any other documents under this Act in the last 18   months; and
 (c)  ASIC has reason to believe that the company is not carrying on business; and
 (d)  ASIC has reason to believe that making the order is in the public interest.


ASIC may order a winding up if the company’s review fee in respect of a review date has not been paid in full at least 12 months after the due date for payment.


ASIC may order a winding up if

(a)  ASIC has reinstated the registration of the company under subsection 601AH(1) in  the last 6 months; and
(b)  ASIC has reason to believe that making the order is in the public interest.


ASIC may order a winding up if

(a)  ASIC has reason to believe that the company is not carrying on business; and
(b)  at least 20 business days before making the order, ASIC gives to:
(i)  the company; and
(ii)  each director of the company;
a notice:
(iii)  stating ASIC’s intention to make the order; and
(iv)  informing the company or the director, as the case may be, that the company or the  director may, within 10 business days after the receipt of the notice, give ASIC a written objection to the making of the order; and
(c)  neither the company, nor any of its directors, has given ASIC such an objection within the time limit specified in the notice.


Comments on Consultation Paper 180 are due by Friday 10 August, 2012.

Click here to download  Consultation Paper 180. (PDF format.)

The following is ASIC’s media release of 12 July 2012:

ASIC today released a consultation paper outlining how it intends to implement its new power to wind up abandoned companies under the Corporations Act 2001 (Corporations Act) to facilitate greater access to the General Employee Entitlements Redundancy Scheme (GEERS).

Consultation Paper 180 ASIC’s power to wind up abandoned companies outlines how ASIC intends to exercise this new power, and how it will prioritise matters for winding up

‘When using this power, our first consideration will be if an order to wind up the company would facilitate employee access to GEERS’, Commissioner John Price said.

GEERS is a scheme funded by the Australian Government to assist employees of companies that have gone into liquidation and who are owed certain employee entitlements. However, companies are sometimes abandoned by their directors without being put into liquidation. This has previously resulted in employees of the company who are owed employee entitlements being unable to access GEERS.

Consistent with the new law, ASIC is proposing to apply a public interest test when deciding whether to wind up a company. This public interest test will consider factors like the cost of winding up, the amount of outstanding employee entitlements and how many employees are affected.

‘ASIC needs to consider the broader public interest when deciding which abandoned companies with outstanding employee entitlements will be wound up’, Mr Price said.

ASIC is proposing not to reinstate companies that have already been deregistered in order to wind them up later. Among other reasons, there are already court processes in place to facilitate the reinstatement of a company where that is needed.

ASIC intends to commence using this new power to wind up abandoned companies in the final quarter of 2012.

Comments on Consultation Paper 180 ASIC’s power to wind up abandoned companies are due by Friday 10 August, 2012.


One of the measures of the Australian Government’s Protecting Workers’ Entitlements Package (announced July 2010) is to assist employees of abandoned companies to access the General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme when they are owed certain employee entitlements.

When the employer is a corporation, it must be in liquidation before GEERS can assist an employee.

Amendments to the Corporations Act have given ASIC the power to wind up an abandoned company in specific circumstances.

ASIC may appoint a registered liquidator over a company when exercising its power to wind up an abandoned company.

Employers and unions trade blows on GEERS scheme

 Corporate Insolvency, Employee Entitlements, GEERS, Personal Bankruptcy  Comments Off on Employers and unions trade blows on GEERS scheme
Jul 172012

(From SCR: Supply Chain Review. July 12, 2012 – )


“The General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme (GEERS) has become an industrial relations and regulatory football, two weeks after its near-death experience in the High Court.

Federal Employment and Superannuation Minister Bill Shorten fast-tracked GEERS payment to 1st Fleet employees amongst others two months ago but industry and union heads are now engaging in robust debate on the issue sparked by a recent surge in payouts.

The latest into the fray is Australian Industry Group (Ai) CEO Innes Willox, who lambasted the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) over accusations that employers were milking GEERS.

“Union assertions that the $1 billion paid out to the employees of insolvent employers under the scheme over the past decade is money taken by employers from their employees is arrant nonsense,” Willox says.

ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver, in a statement reportedly in tune with the thinking in Shorten’s office, put the issue at the door of managers.

Oliver has called for tougher penalties for company directors who breach corporations laws, including trading insolvent or failing to make superannuation contributions, saying the taxpayer should not have to pay for employer malfeasance.

“The amount of money being covered by taxpayers highlights the important role this scheme plays, but also backs up union calls for greater penalties,” he says.

“It should be the responsibility of employers to make provision for workers’ entitlements, and directors who run their companies into the ground with no funds left for workers should be punished.

“These entitlements have been earned over years of loyal service, and employers have a legal obligation to pay them.

“But all too often businesses go broke leaving nothing in the bank. Frequently, companies treat workers’ entitlements as a kind of unsecured, interest-free loan – without telling the workers and often with no intention of ever paying it back. It is left to taxpayers to come to the rescue.

“This type of behaviour must be punished through tougher penalties.”

But Willox hit back, describing the union imputation as “deserving of the strongest condemnation”.

“Under the Corporations Act, directors have a legal duty not to trade insolvently and penalties for individuals of up to $220,000 or imprisonment for up to five years apply,” Willox says.

“Directors can also become personally liable for debts incurred while the company is insolvent.”

He points out that, under the Act, to enter into an agreement or transaction with the intention of avoiding the payment of employee entitlements is an offence.

A court can order those convicted to compensate employees who have suffered loss or damage because of the agreement or transaction.

Penalties of up to $110,000 or imprisonment for up to 10 years apply.

“When companies go broke there are no winners,” Willox says.

“Often directors and business owners experience great hardship.

“Employees are in a different position; they have the GEERS scheme to prevent hardship in these unfortunate circumstances.”

He adds that Ai had warned the Government in January 2011 that increasing redundancy protection from a maximum of 16 weeks to an entitlement of up to four weeks per year of service “could create a huge budget shortfall” if even one large company with a generous redundancy scheme failed.

All about the Report As To Affairs in corporate insolvency

 ASIC, Corporate Insolvency, Insolvency Law, Insolvency practices, Regulation  Comments Off on All about the Report As To Affairs in corporate insolvency
Jul 112012

The corporate regulator may not care much about it but liquidators do, and they want some changes made.

The Report as to Affairs (RATA) is a form which is prepared for the purpose of showing the financial  position of a company at commencement of its entry into liquidation, controllership or  administration.

Between November 2011 and March 2012, and with support from a scholarship administered by the Insolvency Practitioners Association of Australia (IPA),  I carried out extensive research into the RATA, including a random survey of 105 official liquidators.

My research paper is now available from the IPA or from the Centre for Corporate Law and Securities Regulation.

Titled “An Appraisal of the Report as to Affairs”, the paper is a report on the written survey of official liquidators concerning the Report as to Affairs form and associated compliance issues.  The report also examines the history and purpose of the Report as to Affairs, laws which impose duties to submit the form, and ideas for change.

The paper concludes with several recommendations and observations, including the following:

“This survey of liquidators has brought to light substantial criticisms and concerns  about the RATA and a desire for change.  It coincides with moves towards  harmonisation of personal and corporate insolvency regulation, and with the start of  the Personal Property Securities Act, which makes significant changes to priority  rules for secured parties as well as introducing a new vocabulary.  All this suggests  that it’s time the RATA form was revisited and overhauled.    The ASIC should make the RATA the subject of an inquiry through a Consultative  Paper …. The ultimate aims of the consultation would be to produce a new or redesigned form, a  Regulatory Guide to the form, and an information sheet for directors.  The inquiry  should consider, for example, what constitutes an acceptable standard for a RATA –  i.e., when does a professed RATA qualify as a valid RATA – and how the receipt of a  RATA that fails to meet that standard should be handled.”

Appended to the main research report is a supplement which reproduces verbatim all the ideas, suggestions and comments made by liquidators concerning what is wrong with the present RATA and how it could be improved.

Thanks to Professor Ian Ramsay, of Melbourne University, who is Director of the Centre for Corporate Law and Securities Regulation, the full research paper appears in SAI Global Corporate Law Bulletin No. 178.  A copy of the paper (including the annexures) is available as one pdf file from

A shortened version of the paper appears in the latest edition of the Australian Insolvency Journal , which is published by the IPA (see Volume 24 Number 2, pages 10 to 23).  The link to that version is

I am indebted to Michael Murray, Legal Director of the IPA, who vetted the research paper and edited the version that appears in the Australian Insolvency Journal.  It was as a result of his enthusiasm and status in insolvency law circles that Professor Ian Ramsay took an interest in the paper and had it published by the Centre for Corporate Law and Securities Regulation. Michael has also forwarded the paper to the ASIC, ITSA and relevant government departments.

Location of ASIC website for publication of insolvency notices

 ASIC, Corporate Insolvency, Insolvency Notices, Insolvency practices, Regulation  Comments Off on Location of ASIC website for publication of insolvency notices
Jul 042012

The new ASIC website to be used by liquidators and other insolvency practitioners, and which can be searched by the public free of charge, is located at



The name of the site is a little misleading, because not all the notices are about insolvent companies. Notices to do with solvent companies who have entered a members’ voluntary liquidation are also shown. Accordingly, caution needs to be shown when browsing or searching. For example, regardless of whether a company is undergoing a solvent liquidation or an insolvent liquidation, the Browse/Search Notices page of the website shows the Status of such companies as simply “In liquidation”. Even when a notice is Viewed, there is no obvious sign as to the type of liquidation the company is undergoing.

When browsing or searching the results can be filtered by Appointment Type. The types are Court Liquidation, Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation, Deed of Company Arrangement, Deregistration, Members’ Voluntary Liquidation, Scheme of Arrangement, Voluntary Administration and Winding Up Application.