Harding explained to Greenwood that Australia's tax residency rules - introduced in the 1930s - were in urgent need of an update: “The number of jobs people now hold in their lifetimes and global mobility means the rules are no longer appropriate to give a true reflection of who is a tax resident in Australia".
The Board of Taxation conducted a review on the income tax residency rules for individuals, handing down a report to the Australian Government in August 2017. The Board is now undertaking further consultation on its key recommendations.
Harding commented on the complexity of the rules: "They are hard to follow and there are a lot of things you need to consider. Basically you will be an Australian resident if you either reside in Australia, you have a domicile in Australia - unless you have a permanent place of abode outside of Australia - or if you’re here in Australia physically for 183 days and don’t have a usual place of abode outside of the country".
Greenwood asked Harding what would be required to attract high net worth individuals to Australia, given the high income tax rate: "What you’ll find around the world is that there is a very real competition for these high net wealth individuals across jurisdictions; Italy, Malta and various jurisdictions offer tax holidays and all sorts of incentives to bring these types of people and hopefully their assets".
Harding suggested that "careful planning" was required by individuals wishing to relocate overseas and conversely, those who were looking to reside in Australia: "That’s why we need clearer and simpler rules in Australia... We've seen an increased number of court cases in the last 10 years with some strange results that make it very uncertain for people in terms of trying to determine this very key aspect of the tax system".
To listen to the full interview, click here.