Michael Kohn

Partner
Melbourne

Legal Expertise

Expertise

Michael has over 30 years’ experience advising clients on the operation of Australian federal and state taxation laws, initially as a chartered accountant.

He was a senior tax partner and joint head of the large private clients group at one of the top four international accounting firms. At Cornwalls, Michael is privileged to have been appointed as head of the firm’s tax practice. Since then, our tax practice has significantly expanded. In turn, our sophisticated tax expertise has been applied to advice on tax litigation issues, corporate advisory and structuring, mergers and acquisitions, conduct of not-for-profit entities, private equity transactions, banking and finance arrangements, managed investment schemes operations, and cross border transactions.

Our clients include large closely held entities, substantial private family groups, family offices and their associated principals, fund managers, technology entrepreneurs, private equity managers, professional service providers including lawyers, accountants and corporate advisory practices, mid-sized private and publicly traded enterprises, superannuation funds, and private and public foundations and charities.

Michael’s practice areas have focused on commercial tax advice involving private equity transactions, trust administration, group reorganisations both domestically and internationally, intergenerational succession planning, estates, mergers and acquisitions, and industry specific advice to the retail and property sectors. In turn, this involved advising extensively on: the impact tax legislation has on transactions conducted by companies, trusts, individuals, partnerships and charitable organisations; tax controversies including appeals, private rulings, audits and investigations; and tax risk assessment and management.

Cornwalls’ tax practice has become one of the go-to resources for taxpayers facing the intensive and ongoing ATO review into their taxation affairs. Such situations are becoming more frequent, given the current legislative landscape and the Commissioner’s increasingly broad powers.

Experience

  • Advising a large privately owned retailer on the structuring of its business for stamp duty purposes, which involved the re-financing of a debt facility in excess of $500 million

  • Acting on a purchase for a private company owned and controlled by a consortium of private investors and several Executive Managers formerly employed by a struggling biscuit manufacturer; the business purchased is the fourth-largest biscuit manufacturer in Australia (with 170 employees), and the transaction involved a complicated sale structure and required us to obtain the agreement of the ATO that the sale was of a going concern

  • Acting for a multinational corporation regarding the premiums charged by the WorkCover Authority; we successfully objected against a re-classification of the corporation’s WorkCover industry classification, resulting in the original industry classification applying; the outcome was a commensurate reduction in the corporation’s WorkCover premiums by approximately $400,000; we also worked with the client to ensure its conduct of operations was appropriately structured, so the correct work industry classification applied in the future

  • Advising a multinational software company on the structuring of its business for international operations

  • Advising on the tax implications for the reorganisation of the property portfolio of a national retail chain

  • Advising on the preparation of a substantial bequest to a university in a manner that produced an endowment fund without the use of trusts and corporate entities; this unique approach resulted in an efficient and cost-effective means of operating the endowment

  • Advising on the tax structure for holding Australian investments acquired by non-resident private equity firms

  • Advising major charities on tax issues impacting their tax-exempt status where group re-organisations are planned

  • Advising institutional and large private investors on the consequences of Capital Gains Tax where substantial redevelopment of existing retail and commercial complexes are proposed

  • Advising on the harmonisation of provisions contained in debt instruments with income tax law, used to finance corporate acquisitions.

PRO BONO AND COMMUNITY WORK

  • Past national treasurer for the United Israel Appeal of Australia.

  • Past national convenor of the Family Business Council of Australia.

Memberships and Associations

  • Law Institute of Victoria

  • Taxation and Revenue Committee (Law Institute of Victoria)

  • CPA Australia

Qualifications

  • Diploma of Accounting

  • Diploma of Tax Law (Monash University)

  • Juris Doctor (Law) (the University of Melbourne)

  • Master of Property & Construction (the University of Melbourne)

  • Master of Laws (the University of Melbourne)

  • Chartered Tax Advisor

Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice

  • Victoria

“When advising clients, I adopt a commercial perspective based on a sound and thorough understanding of their business operations. Revenue law is in a constant state of flux and this approach facilitates active risk management of my clients’ tax affairs.”