Tax exemptions

Perpetual Corporate Trust v CST [2022] SASC 7

Should tax exemptions be read liberally?  A stamp duty provision conferred a broad exemption on property not used for ‘residential purposes’4. Exemptions having a purpose to benefit a class of activity are generally to be read liberally5.  This reflects the principle that ‘all legislation is to be construed purposively’ to ascertain the meaning of the text6.

Bochner JA (at [110-111]) held that the provision in question exempts property transfers that pursue a purpose of benefiting business.  Two points – (A) the statutory purpose of an exemption may affect its interpretation7, and (B) it is no longer to be assumed that every exemption from tax will be read widely.

This principle is from Episode 82 of interpretation NOW!


4 s 105A of the Stamp Duties Act 1923 (SA).

5 Diethelm (1993) 44 FCR 450 (at 457), RSAYS [2007] SASC 398 (at [29-30]).

6 Bargwanna [2012] HCA 11 (at [38]), NSWALC [2016] HCA 50 (at [92]).

7 Pearce 9th ed (at [9.57]), cf Word [2008] HCA 55 (at [107]).