Status of notes

Director v Adams [2015] FCA 828

For general purposes, notes are now part of the Act10, as this case reminds us (at [30-31]).  Notes in tax legislation, however, may be subject to special rules11.  They are part of the Act, but do not have the status of ‘explanatory sections’ or ‘guides’.  This begs the question – just what can notes in tax laws be used for?  The answer is a little less than ideal. 

Notes cannot be disregarded but, equally, cannot control the text.  They are something less than ‘explanatory sections’ or ‘guides’, but may still function as some sort of interpretive aid.  iTip – always consider the notes, but don’t let them dominate your thinking on what a provision means.    

This case is from Episode 5 of interpretationNOW!    


10  s 13 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 was amended in 2011.

11  Div 182 of the GST Act, Div 950 of ITAA97, for example.