PIPA Member Profile | Garry Wolnarek, Umbrella Accountants

Aug 2023Karen Millers

Garry Wolnarek of Brisbane’s Umbrella Accountants decided five years ago to specialise in property taxation advice and wishes more in his industry did the same.


| CAN YOU PLEASE TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS?
I founded Umbrella Accountants in 2013, situated at Shailer Park and North Lakes in Brisbane.

Previously, I was the founder of AZ Tax Advisors in 2000 in Redcliffe.

I hold a Bachelor of Business in Accounting from Monash University, a Public Practice Certificate, and am a Fellow of the Institute of Public Accountants (FIPA) and a registered tax agent.

I have 20 years of public practice experience and really enjoy working with clients around their property issues.

About five years ago, I decided to really focus on property taxation and the residential property industry.

We like to be able to provide property tax advice that may not be readily available at the suburban accountant level, which also it allows us to differentiate from other suburban accountants.


| HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A PROPERTY INVESTMENT PROFESSIONAL AND WHAT WAS YOUR PATHWAY INTO THE PROFESSION (INCL. OTHER CAREERS)?
Originally, I got my tax agent registration back in 2000.

Back then I was a bit of a GP – General Practice – advising and completing tax returns whichever client came through the door.

However, unknowingly I really enjoyed talking to clients around property taxation and continued to attract clients with rental property tax returns.

About five years ago, I asked myself what did I really enjoy doing, and I realised it was the residential property industry that I had a keen interest in, not just doing tax returns.

I was also fascinated by the various stakeholders and how their accountants would be involved within the residential property industry:

> For mum and dad investors.
> Various tax issues around property developments for small developers.
> All the stakeholder business and tax issues such as for:

1. Sales and marketing professionals, real estate agencies, promoters, buyers’ agents, property strategists, and, of course, the property spruikers!
2. Builders and trades
3. Professional consultants,
4. Finance brokers, etc.

I realised that the more I could understand the motivations, KPI, income, and expenses of each group, the better I’d be at advising property clients.


| HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT PIPA WHEN YOU FIRST JOINED?
I stumbled across PIPA as I was looking for property industry information, did some research, and thought that this could provide a form of recognition that we are property-focused accountants.

I was looking for some kind of recognition that I was not just a tax agent “general practitioner”, but rather a tax agent with a property speciality.

PIPA appears to provide that recognition that wasn’t available otherwise.


| AS AN ACCOUNTANT, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE REASONS IN YOUR OPINION WHY OTHERS IN YOUR PROFESSION SHOULD CONSIDER JOINING PIPA AND/OR LEARN MORE ABOUT PROPERTY INVESTMENT FOR THE BENEFIT OF THEIR CLIENTS?
I think not enough accountants specialise in property taxation, as it’s so easy to be a GP than to specialise.

Alternatively, many accountants gravitate to a particular business industry, such as motor mechanics, doctors, etc. or get involved in financial planning, which has historically steered clear of direct property advice given it’s not been considered a financial product within most dealer groups list of products they can advise on.

There just doesn’t appear to be much in the way of formal recognition and qualification around tax accounting within property.


| HOW WOULD YOU LIKE PIPA TO SUPPORT YOUR BUSINESS AND ITS GROWTH?
Property tax information is limited and generally buried amongst all sorts of taxation information. PIPA could provide specialist property tax information.

However, the property taxation information would need to start at a high-level overview, and then drill down in layers.

I find that a lot of tax law and information drills down too quickly, thereby losing the big picture overview and connections to other tax-related laws.

Much of property taxation is multidimensional, whereby you need to consider various possible tax issues simultaneously to get the right answer.

That is, is it passive, mere realisation, active, profit motives, trading, revenue versus capital, GST, state taxes, foreign tax issues, ownership tax structures, etc.


| WOULD YOU RECOMMEND OTHER PROPERTY INVESTMENT PROFESSIONALS AND ACCOUNTANTS BECOME MEMBERS OF PIPA? WHY?
Yes, if they want to specialise in property advice and taxation, then PIPA would be a great start.


| WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOUR BUSINESS IN THE NEXT 12 MONTHS AND BEYOND?
We really want to provide greater education services around property taxation and advice.

We’re looking to create a lot of short videos around property taxation – in a style that is simple, entertaining, and in-line with our motto, “Think smart, talk simply”.

We’d like to provide a taxation resource to all interested about how taxation plays an important part in your property investment or property business journey.

We see a lot of clients getting only half the information, and much of the tax information online or provided by the typical suburban tax agent may be too narrow, therefore, it’s not seeing the bigger picture.

There is a lot of property bought, sold, developed in Australia each year, and if we could help provide a piece of taxation advice covering many of the typical and emerging issues the industry would benefit.

We don’t want to be seen as in the pocket of any group, rather that our information is free from fear or favour of any vested group.

Originally Published: PIPA Adviser Issue #16

https://www.pipa.asn.au/wp-content/uploads/PIPA-Adviser-16-a.pdf

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