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On 26 May 2009 the ATO released a decision impact statement on the decision of the Federal Court in Victorian Women Lawyers' Association Inc v FCT [2008] FCA 983. The Victorian Women Lawyers' Association, which was established to further the advancement of women in the legal profession in Victoria, had sought income tax exemption on the basis that it was a charitable institution established for purposes beneficial to the community or alternatively as an association established for community service purposes. The Federal Court concluded that the VWLA's primary purpose of advancing women in the legal profession in Victoria was a purpose "beneficial to the community", particularly having regard to the social norms reflected in the sex discrimination laws. The court did not consider it necessary to reach a concluded position about whether the VWLA was an association established for community service purposes.

The ATO considers that the court followed established jurisprudence regarding what constitutes a "charitable institution", and the decision does not represent a real expansion of the law governing charitable institutions: Decision Impact Statement DIS VID 1369, 1370, 1371 of 2006 and VID 728, 729, 730 of 2007 (26 May 2009).

For a copy of the statement go here.

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