2023 Excises

Consumption taxes and section 90 of the Australian Constitution

Published Date: 1 Jul 2023


Although the High Court has settled upon a broad view of “excise” in s 90 of the Constitution, it has excluded from that term a “true” consumption tax, a tax imposed upon the act of consumption. A Victorian tax on zero and low-emission vehicles imposes such a tax, and is under constitutional challenge. This article explains relevant case law on s 90 as it relates to this question. It considers arguments in favour of and against including “true” consumption taxes within the meaning of excise in s 90. It concludes there are stronger arguments, based on precedent, logic and public policy, favouring the inclusion of such taxes within the meaning of excise in the Constitution.

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2023 Excises

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