Episode 94

Michelle Janczarski

In a 2022 speech, Allsop CJ stressed that tax laws are subject to the same interpretation principles as other statutes.  Although some ‘peculiarities’ arise for tax provisions – for example, their ‘fiscal and commercial context’ is critical1 – these merely stem from the application of settled principles.  This fits with the High Court position that ‘tax statutes do not form a class of their own’, but that their fiscal nature is part of their context2.  Allsop CJ also noted that, while tax laws have an overarching revenue-raising purpose, this ‘does not mean that beneficial constructions in favour of the Commissioner should be adopted or sought’.  Tax laws raise revenue ‘not by all means possible but in accordance with a detailed and complex plan of fiscal policy’3.  Equally, the fact that tax laws interfere with property rights does not ‘require a narrow construction in favour of taxpayers’.

Michelle Janczarski – Tax Counsel Network

See here for the official PDF of Episode 94 of interpretation NOW!

Thanks – Annie Huang, Janhavi Bhandari & Cheryl D’Amico.


1 Chevron [2017] FCAFC 62 (at [3]).

2 Alcan [2009] HCA 41 (at [57]), Episode 14.

3 Gleeson Statutory Interpretation, Carr [2007] HCA 47 (at [5-7]).