Closely structured legislation

Buddhist Society WA v FCT (No 2) [2021] FCA 1363

The ATO revoked the DGR status of the society.  The latter argued that, by doing this and seeking further information8, the ATO now had a reverse onus to show why the society was not entitled to DGR status.

This was rejected by the judge (at [36-38]) because the revocation power had a different and narrower purpose.  The power to revoke DGR status was an example of ‘closely structured’ provisions under which text ‘may be paramount’ and the ‘room for interpretation must contract’9.  The particular purpose of those provisions prevented them being read to have any reversing impact on the standard onus of proof borne by taxpayers in this context.

This principle is from Episode 79 of interpretation NOW!


8 s 14ZZO(b)(ii), s 426-55(1) in S1, s 426-40 in S1 of TAA53, respectively.

9 Channel [2015] FCAFC 57 (at [6]), Helvering (1934) 69 F (2d) 809 (at 810).