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Declaratory relief in revenue matters


Courts have long had power to make binding declarations on questions of law put before them by interested parties, provided applicants are not merely seeking advisory opinions based on purely hypothetical assumptions. This article examines the ability of courts to make declarations relating to discrete questions of law arising in revenue proceedings. The article considers, in particular, the utility of declaratory relief, limitations imposed by the conclusive evidence provisions of taxation laws, the availability of alternative remedies, the use of declaratory relief in GST cases, declarations in relation to future matters and on preliminary questions of law, the practice of the Commissioner of Taxation in seeking declarations, and jurisdiction to grant declaratory relief in anti-avoidance matters. The author concludes that the emerging use of declaratory relief in tax litigation is one of the most important and potentially innovative and effective developments in this area of the law.

Author profile

Jennifer Batrouney QC QC CTA
Jennifer is a highly respected and sought-after advocate and adviser. She has had extensive experience in appearing before the High Court, the Federal Court and the superior State courts - mainly in revenue matters. Jennifer is President of the Tax Bar Association, and a director of the Law Council of Australia and the Australian Charity Law Association. She is a member of the Executive of the Victorian Bar Council and a member of the Melbourne Law School Advisory Council. Jennifer was a member of the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal in 2001-2003, the President of Australian Women Lawyers in 2003-2004 and was Deputy Chairman of the Board of Barristers' Clerking Services Pty Ltd (List A) from 2004 until 2007. She has sat on the Law Council of Australia's Tax Committee since 1991 and represents the Law Council on the Federal Court Users' Committee. Jennifer is also a consultant to the Federal Treasury in relation to the Tax Issues Entry System and was a member of the Advisory Panel to the Board of Taxation from 2010 to 2013. - Current at 11 March 2015
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