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Contemporary issues in construing tax legislation

Published on 01 Oct 16 by "TAXATION IN AUSTRALIA" JOURNAL ARTICLE

Statute law has become so pervasive that almost every legal problem is affected by, or requires consideration of, the provisions of an enactment. No more is this so than in the area of taxation, the imposition of which necessarily finds its source in legislation. Principles of statutory interpretation and, in particular, the search for “legislative intention” continue to develop.

This article explores some of the key problems that arise when the application of the ordinary meaning of the words of a tax Act gives rise to anomalous or arbitrary outcomes and the extent to which courts may find a meaning in the words of a tax provision which, on its face, may depart from the ordinary meaning of such words. The article focuses on recent developments, including three tax cases in which the courts have had to decide whether to depart from the ordinary meaning of the words of a tax Act.

Author profile

Eugene Wheelahan QC FTI
Eugene is a barrister who practises principally in the area of tax. He has appeared in a number of leading tax cases in the High Court and Federal Court, including BHP (the “associates” case), Watson, AusNet, Orica, SPI PowerNet, Australian Pipeline Trust and Financial Synergy Holdings. He also provides opinions and assists clients in their dealings with the Commissioner. Eugene has a Master of Tax from the University of Melbourne where he is a Senior Fellow of the Law Faculty, lecturing in the subjects Comparative Tax Avoidance and Tax Avoidance and Planning. - Current at 19 June 2019
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