John Symond’s $58 million tax break



Aussie Home Loans boss John Symond built a reputation as a champion of the people and is widely acknowledged as breaking the big four bank’s complete domination of the home loan market in the 1990s.

When it comes to his tax bill however, the Supreme Court has heard that Mr Symond previously claimed the kind of tax-break that ordinary Aussies can only dream about.

According to a report published in the The Daily Telegraph, Symond allegedly "used a tax free $58 million windfall" to build a mansion in the exclusive Sydney suburb of Point Piper between 2003 and 2006.

(Update: In a statement issued later in the day, a spokesperson from Aussie Homeloans said that describing the tax break as a windfall is "misleading and unfair". "The damages sought by Mr Symond from Gadens in the proceedings is based on Mr Symond's claim that, as a result of the advice provided by Gadens, Mr Symond has actually paid substantially more in tax than he otherwise would have paid if he had been provided competent advice under the Tax Act.There was no “windfall” in place but a deferral of tax. In the end more tax was paid than ordinarily due because of the structure recommended by Gadens. Mr Symond has received a letter from the Australian Tax Office stating that following an investigation, neither he nor Aussie Home Loans had set out to avoid their taxation payments at any time," the statement read. )

Details of his tax troubles have emerged as part of the lawsuit Mr Symond has taken against law firm Gaden's which provided the entrepreneur with tax advice based on his company structure.

Symond is suing his former law firm, and former partner Ross Seller, claiming that the guidance they gave in June 2003 - that he could draw $58 million without paying tax - was negligent.

After being audited by the ATO in 2007, Mr Symond was forced to pay back taxes on the $58 million break, details from court proceedings have revealed.

As part of that settlement with the ATO, Symond agreed to pay $5.7 million in back taxes and was hit with a $567,450 penalty.

Well known for his catch cry “we’ll save you”, Symond is worth an estimated $600 million and was named the nation’s Father of the Year for 2012.

Law firm Gadens has claimed in its defence that My Symond knew the full details surrounding the restructuring of his Aussie Home Loans company by lawyers and finance executives so that he could “draw money from the new holding company tax-free”.

Gadens considered the company restructuring “risky” as there was a chance the ATO could press charges of tax avoidance against Mr Symond.

The Daily Telegraph reports that Mr Symond responded to those claims by providing documents to the court which show he told executives David Makinson and Rob Wannan,

"I can't risk any problems with the ATO. The last thing I want is for the media or the public to think I'm some kind of tax cheat."

Full statement from Aussie Home Loans


The damages sought by Mr Symond from Gadens in the proceedings is based on Mr Symond's claim that, as a result of the advice provided by Gadens, Mr Symond has actually paid substantially more in tax than he otherwise would have paid if he had been provided competent advice under the Tax Act.
 
There was no “windfall” in place but a deferral of tax. In the end more tax was paid than ordinarily due because of the structure recommended by Gadens.
 
Mr Symond is seeking damages of $13 million plus costs against Gadens, whose former partner providing the advice left the firm and now faces criminal charges in relation to other unrelated matters.
 
Similar action against lawyers Abbott Tout, which hired the former Gadens partner, has been successfully settled with Mr Symond receiving $2.5 million including costs from the firm.
 
Mr Symond has received a letter from the Australian Tax Office stating that following an investigation, neither he nor Aussie Home Loans had set out to avoid their taxation payments at any time.


 
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