Guidelines and rulings

Antegra Pty Ltd v CCSR [2021] NSWSC 107

Payne JA (at [86-87]) held that the ordinary principles of interpretation apply to Treasurer guidelines, and that it was ‘to be construed according to its text and purpose as evident from the document itself in the context of the legislative scheme in which the guidelines are required to be applied’13.  Text writers14 and other factors supported this outcome.

The discussion in this case points the way on how public rulings issued by the ATO are to be read.  This is particularly important because proper reliance on a ruling which ‘applies to you’ operates to bind the Commissioner15iTip – read administrative rulings and guidelines in the same general way as statutes.

This principle is from Episode 70 of interpretation NOW!


13 Salvation Army [2018] NSWSC 128 (at [159-166]), cf s 46 AIA 1901 (Cth).

14 Pearce 9th ed (at [1.2]), Herzfeld & Prince Interpretation (at [16.10]).

15 s 357-60(1) of Sch 1 to TAA53, cf Resource [2019] FCAFC 51 (at [94-95]).