Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Navigating an acquisition

Whether you’re working for the acquirer or the target, acquisitions are exciting transactions to be involved in. As an advisor, you shape how both the newly acquired business and the seller will operate.

Acquisitions typically have a wide variety of tax implications, and usually involve a large team covering corporate, international and transaction taxes. These transactions involve a significant amount of planning and careful execution to ensure every aspect has been thoroughly examined.

Planning and advising

The first stage of any acquisition involves detailed planning. This includes considering how the acquisition could be structured. For example, will the shares or assets be purchased? It can also involve looking at options to fund the acquisition.

For every possible solution, there are a multitude of tax implications that need to be identified, researched and solved. This process is complex and requires excellent problem-solving and numerical skills, as well as intellectual agility. A tax training course that focuses on high-level tax planning can help you develop these skills.

A team of advisors is usually involved in this process, with many holding specialised taxation education in areas including corporate tax, international tax, GST or stamp duty. Each member of the team plays a significant role in defining the business.


Negotiations are an interesting part of acquisitions and may involve several parties. Tax practitioners may negotiate with the ATO or state revenue authorities to obtain rulings on the proposed tax treatment of the acquisition. Significant technical research is required to prepare for these discussions and your persuasive skills will be put to the test when creating applications.

You may also be involved in negotiating the final sale outcome and reviewing clauses in the contract, like tax warranties and indemnifications. This requires strategic thinking and foresight to identify the best way to protect your client. These negotiations also require a high degree of discretion due to the sensitive nature of such transactions.

Documenting and executing

Once the deal is completed, there’s still plenty of work to be done. This includes documenting each aspect of the final arrangement to ensure all the necessary facts are evidenced. You may also use this to prepare the client’s compliance documents, such as tax returns and BAS statements. This is an important part of managing a client’s taxation affairs and may involve liaising with them directly to obtain information. Managing corporate taxation compliance is a good opportunity to put your tax training into practice, while also building a strong relationship with the client.

Navigating an acquisition is a challenging and rewarding experience for any taxation advisor. It provides you with an opportunity to refine your research, problem-solving and negotiation skills, while also building strong relationships with not only your client, but other advisors and regulatory authorities.

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