Government appoints new taxation watchdog

By Stephen Easton

Tuesday April 9, 2019

Tax lawyer Karen Payne has been appointed the next Inspector-General of Taxation, an office which recently took on the additional title of Taxation Ombudsman.

The new head of the taxation watchdog agency is already deeply involved in federal tax law and administration. She became a member of the government’s Board of Taxation in 2015, after serving on its expert advisory panel for about seven years, and was appointed its inaugural chief executive in March, 2016.

Karen Payne

Her five-year appointment takes effect on May 6 and means Andrew McLoughlin, who has been acting IGT since the departure of Ali Noroozi last July, will go back to the deputy role he has held for 10 years.

Recent major pieces of work signed off by McLoughlin include a review into the future of the tax profession and a report following up the infamous Four Corners investigation of debt collection and enforcement practices within the Australian Taxation Office, which was joyfully welcomed by the tax commissioner.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg thanked McLoughlin for stepping into the top job and said Payne would maintain “the high level of skills and experience” in tax law and administration required by the statutory body.

“Ms Payne will bring substantial private practice and public service experience to the role of Inspector-General,” said Frydenberg.

Read more: Tax commissioner says the ATO is ‘not the strong arm of an oppressive state’

The new IGTO is also a member of the Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation board and has previously been a tax partner with Minter Ellison, specialising in corporate and international tax. She has lectured at universities and holds extensive academic and legal qualifications, as the Treasurer noted:

“Ms Payne holds a Master of Commerce, Legal Studies and Taxation and a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Commerce, Accounting, Finance and Systems from the University of New South Wales.

“Ms Payne is a solicitor admitted in New South Wales, holds professional membership to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, is a chartered tax adviser (Taxation Institute of Australia) and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.”

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