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Interpreting tax legislation - International All Sports v FCT

Published on 01 Nov 11 by "TAXATION IN AUSTRALIA" JOURNAL ARTICLE

Statutory interpretation cases have often turned on the choice between a literal or purposive approach and the application of various common law principles. More recently, the purposive approach, which rejects strict grammatical analysis in favour of a consideration not only of the syntax but also of the policy and the surrounding legislative context of the statute, has become the preferred approach. The recent Federal Court decision in
International All Sports v FCT, a GST case, provides a good example of the now settled approach to statutory interpretation in the tax context.

This article examines the decision in detail and, in particular, how the application of the current approach affected the outcome. Although it is clear that context and purpose should be considered from the outset, the literal reading of a statute will only be diverged from where such considerations lead to an
alternative construction that should be preferred.

Author profile:

Keith Swan
Keith works for Ernst & Young. Current at 18 January 2012
 
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