Herbert Smith Freehills and one of its lawyers have been instrumental in creating an important tax application for leading not-for-profit law service Justice Connect.
Samantha Loff, a charity law solicitor and tax specialist with Herbert Smith Freehills, worked closely with Justice Connect to help create an app which allows not-for-profit organisations to establish if they are eligible, or remain eligible, for income tax exemption.
Herbert Smith Freehills’ pro bono practice has a long-standing relationship with Justice Connect – one of the country’s leading providers of pro bono legal assistance, law reform and policy. However, this is the first time the firm has assisted Justice Connect with the development of new technology like an app.
The web-based, ‘Tax Concessions Guide’ app asks the user a series of simple questions and then produces an individualised, downloadable report providing the most relevant and useful information based on the user’s answers. Testing has shown it can take only 5-10 minutes to complete, with the user’s responses dictating the number of questions that are asked.
The report provides guidance on an organisation’s existing tax concessions, eligibility to register as a charity and access income tax exemptions. The app will save not-for-profit organisations time reading and understanding complex legal information, as well as potential financial savings from not having to pay income tax.
Ms Loff said she loved working on the app, describing it as a “challenge to translate a complex area of law into something that could be used easily and simply via an application”.
“I really enjoyed breaking down the information into a form that was logical and clear, ensuring that the app asks simple, relevant questions to reach its conclusions. It also educates users along the way as to why certain information is needed, what the legal requirements are, and provides practical ‘next steps’.
“More importantly, I think the app is a fantastic project because I believe it will save not-for-profit organisations time, confusion and money that is better directed to serve their purposes. I really hope many organisations will benefit from the app.”
Brooke Massender, Herbert Smith Freehills global Head of Pro Bono, was proud of the collaborative effort.
"We can expect to see increased consideration of digital delivery in the community legal sector as funding cuts threaten traditional service delivery models," she said.
The app was developed in collaboration with the University of Melbourne Law School, the Telematics Course Development Fund and Neota Logic, the developer of the app’s underlying software platform.
The app is free and publically available here.