Ben Symons

Admitted as a Solicitor in NSW:2002
Date of call to the Bar:

Areas of Practice
Taxation Law
Income tax (Domestic, International and GST)
Administrative Law
Constitutional Law
Corporations (including insolvency and tax related matters)
Succession (including tax related matters)

2002 – 2005: Master of Laws (Taxation) –
University of Sydney

1996 - 2000: UNSW – combined Bachelor of
Commerce / Bachelor of Laws

I’m a Sydney based barrister specialising in tax law.  I give advice and undertake litigation in all areas of taxation including:

  • Complex corporate for corporate groups;

  • Advice on all international tax issues for corporate entities and individuals, including transfer pricing and residency disputes with the ATO;

  • Complex restructures for corporate groups;

  • Restructures for small to medium size enterprises;

  • Restructures for high net worth individual’s family groups;

  • Advice in relation to superannuation tax planning

  • Advice in relation to estate planning;

  • Complex advice relating to the taxation of trusts and trust restructures;

  • Applications for judicial advice for the reconstruction of trust deeds;

  • Advice and planning to resolve Division 7A tax problems;

  • Advice and litigation on the small business capital gains tax concessions;

  • Advice and litigation in relation to State taxes including payroll tax, land tax and stamp duty;

  • Lodging objections to ATO and OSR assessments, negotiating with the ATO, drafting responses to position papers and litigation in the AAT, NCAT, the Federal Court and the Supreme Court.

I also take matters in other areas of law including commercial / equity matters, wills and estates matters and personal injury matters.

Relevant experience
I’ve spent over 15 years practicing in the area of taxation law.  I started my career working in the corporate / international tax group of Big 4 accounting firms in Sydney for 4 years.  I then moved to London working as a senior in-house tax counsel for large international banks, providing advice on complex structured finance transactions and international tax issues.  My career highlights include:

  • Acting as senior in-house capital markets tax counsel at Blackrock London branch, the world’s largest asset manager;
  • Acting as head of tax for Unicredit, London branch, a multi-national universal bank (primarily dealing with their structured finance / investment banking tax issues);
  • Acting as senior in-house tax counsel for Northgate Information Systems and undertaking tax planning relating to a complicated double Irish-Dutch sandwich structure.


Speaking engagements / Presentations
I give presentations on a regular basis for groups of solicitors and accountants.  My recent presentations include:

  • STEP NSW (March 2017) – a presentation on the recent changes to superannuation legislation and their impact on Estate Planning;
  • Sydney City Law Society (March 2017) – Current issues in Payroll tax;
  • Sydney City Law Society (February 2017) – Family Provision Applications;
  • CPA Australia (September 2016) – Tax issues in relation to the Sale of a Business.


Curriculum Vitae
A detailed CV is available on request.

Why me? / Service ethic
I bring the highest level of technical expertise to the work that I do.  I have extensive experience solving difficult legal problems, particularly tax problems, and coming up with creative practical solutions for my clients.
Taxation law is incredibly complex and ever changing.  It requires someone who is highly qualified with extensive experience to assist you navigate the minefield that is taxation law, and defensibly achieve the best possible tax outcome for your client.
I guarantee that:

  • I will treat you and your client in respectful and courteous professional manner;
  • I will be extremely thorough in the preparation of your advice / case;
  • I will communicate complex advice clearly to you and your client in a way that you understand;
  • I will provide practical solutions for you and your client;
  • I will endeavour to respond to emails and phone calls within 24 hours;
  • I will always be readily contactable;
  • I will provide advice on a timely basis – I will endeavour to provide written advice within 2 weeks of receiving all relevant information;
  • My fees will be reasonable.  I will provide an estimate of my fees up front so that there are no fee surprises.

Selected cases:
Federal Court - Taxation
- Commissioner of Taxation v Macoun [2014] FCAFC 162 – Acting for the respondent in relation to an appeal by the Australian Taxation Office (“ATO”) to the Full Federal Court from a decision of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (“AAT”). The AAT had decided in favour of the respondent, a retired World Bank employee, that pension payments made to the respondent were exempt from Australian taxation under section 6 of the International Organisations (Privileges and Immunities) Act 1963 (Cth) and clause 8 of the Specialized Agencies (Privileges and Immunities) Regulations 1986 (Cth). This matter largely involved statutory construction.

- Commissioner of Taxation v Todd Stephen McGrouther – [2015] FCAFC 34 – Acting for the respondent in relation to an appeal by the ATO from an interlocutory decision of Justice Edmunds in the Federal Court that a notice given by the taxpayer pursuant to Section 14ZYA of the Taxation Administration Act was irrevocable. This matter largely involved statutory construction.

- Commissioner of Taxation v Seymour – [2015] FCA 320: Acting for the respondents resisting an application for certiorari by the ATO to quash a decision of the AAT made in favour of the respondents that they should be permitted to give evidence in the substantive matter before the AAT by video link. This matter has since proceeded to an appeal to the Full Federal Court and decision is pending in that matter.

Administrative Appeal Tribunal - Taxation
- Kamal Jayasinghe v Commissioner of Taxation – [2015] AATA 456 - Deputy President Tamberlin considered whether pension payments to a retired World Bank employee were exempt from Australian taxation under section 6 of the International Organisations (Privileges and Immunities) Act 1963 (Cth) and clause 8 of the United Nations (Privileges and Immunities) Regulations 1986 (Cth). This matter involved both statutory construction and consideration of underlying multi-lateral treaties and how these treaties influence the interpretation of the statute in accordance with principles of public international law.

- Commissioner of Taxation v Hamzeh (pending) – Superannuation - acting for the Australian Taxation Office resisting an appeal by the taxpayer to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal claiming that an amount was validly rolled over from one superannuation fund to another and was not therefore assessable income.

District Court – Employment law
-Phillip Moss v Central Coast Mariners – matter in progress – acting for the Central Coast Mariners defending an unfair dismissal action brought against them by a former coach of the club, Phillip Moss.

District Court – Professional negligence
- Lucy Adriaans v Blaxland, Mawson & Rose – matter in progress – acting for the plaintiff in a claim for professional negligence against a firm of solicitors who gave negligent advice to the plaintiff in respect of the purchase of a property by instalments.

District Court – Medical negligence
- Penelope Rompel v Western Sydney Area Health Service – matter in progress – acting for the plaintiff in a medical negligence claim against the Western Sydney Area Health Service for failing to provide appropriate post-operation care to the plaintiff that resulted in the plaintiff getting foot drop.

Federal Court – Construction law / Misleading and deceptive conduct
-Joey Construction Pty Ltd v IT Environmental (Australia) Pty Ltd – matter in progress – acting for the plaintiff in a $3 million claim against an environmental engineering company for misleading and deceptive conduct in producing an expert report that cleared a former service station site to be safe for residential development when the site had not been properly remediated.

Federal Circuit Court – Migration
- SZUWM and Ors v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection [2015] FCCA 2153 – Acting for the applicant in an application for judicial review of a decision of the Refuge Review Tribunal (“RRT”) in which the applicant had been denied an adjournment after presenting a valid medical certificate to the RRT before he was due to give evidence.
- SZUXE and Ors v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection – decision to be given 16 March 2016 – Acting for the applicant in an application for judicial review of a decision of the RRT in relation to whether the tribunal member was biased and whether the Tribunal Member had failed to take account of a relevant consideration.

Selected advice
Advice on whether a discretionary trust should make a family trust election and the benefits of making a family trust election. The advice included:
- consideration of how best to utilise losses of a group of companies that were part of the property of the trust estate;
- consideration of whether capital gains and franking credits could be streamed to beneficiaries and how this could be done; and
- general advice as to the benefits of making a ‘family trust election’, in particular, in relation to utilisation of losses by the trust itself and passing franked dividends to beneficiaries.

Amendments of various trust deeds to account for a change of beneficiaries. Advice in relation to whether these amendments would result in a resettlement.

Advice to a foreign hedge fund on the trading activities it conducted, including:
- the circumstances in which it would be considered to be non-resident in Australia;
- whether it would have any Australian sourced income;
- how any Australian sourced income could be exempted from tax, specifically with regard to the ‘investor manager regime’; and
- consideration of transfer pricing issues that may impact on the activities of the fund, in particular, whether the servers it was using may amount to a permanent establishment and if so, whether the licensing of intellectual property through these servers may create a transfer pricing issue.

Contact Details:
Tel: +61 2 9210 1473
Fax: +61 2 9210 0565