Vanderstock decision.All quiet on the Western Front!

So far, nothing has been issued by any revenue office as to their view of what are the implications of the case and how they will approach it. Why? The decision was made on 18 October 2023. It is now, at the time of this Monthly Report, February. Surely there have been some discussions either at an internet revenue office level or at inter-revenue office level! How are taxpayers supposed to go forward on a “nothing to see here” approach from the States/Territories? One can add a question: what does the Commonwealth see are the case’s implications? Surely there has been some contact with the ATO or Treasury!

The Vanderstock elephant approaches WW1 trenches

There have been several articles on this case:

Allens Linklaters, Johnson Winter Slattery, King and Wood Mallesons and Australian Lawyers Alliance to name just a few.

And a letter has been sent to the Queensland Law Society Revenue Law Committee as well as letters to each of the revenue offices in much the same terms:

“The High Court decision in Vanderstock v Victoria [2023] HCA 30 (18 October 2023) is a particularly important one so far as the Commonwealth and States/Territories tax base is concerned. Could you kindly advise your Office’s views of the implications of the decision such as:

  • Will your Office distinguish the facts/ratio of the case?
  • Will your Office follow the ratio?
  • In either case, what does your Office consider will be the impact on taxes in your respective State/Territory?
  • Will your Office make provision for a High Court case to declare a particular tax (taxes) in your jurisdiction invalid?
  • What happens to claim for refunds?
  • Has there been any suggestion that it may require a Commonwealth – States/Territories tax restructure?
  • Will your Office issue a public advice/ruling to the community on these and other questions?
  • Will your Office issue that advice urgently so that taxpayers know what your Office expects of them?
  • Will your Office throw all of issues to open, transparent, widespread consultation?

Your answers will be published in a subsequent The Monthly Report. It would of great benefit to taxpayers in Australia to have those answers as soon as possible.”

So, it’s not that others have not pointed out this case. Surely, no revenue office has not heard of the case and read at least one of these articles!! That would be taking systemic dysfunctionality to extremes. TTR does not believe that that is the case. So, what’s going on?

It’s not right that taxpayers are left in the dark. Should taxpayers “pay under protest”? What are self-assessors supposed to do? For Queensland, will s. 20 of the Taxation Legislation Act 2001 (Qld.) come into view. This case is no mere interesting sideshow.

TTR will give the revenue offices a bit more time to respond but then it is time for a Right to Information application. It will be interesting to see what the QLS Revenue Committee does not only to help taxpayers and their advisers to understand the case and its wider implications but how assessments and their payments is concerned.