In March 2019, at the The Tax Institute’s National Convention, in Hobart Ms Leah Ranie presented a paper, which she co-authored with Stuart Courtney, Ari Rosenbaum and Greg Protector, all of King & Wood Mallesons, Lawyers. The paper was entitled: What’s Hot in State Taxes.
The 2018 – 2019 year to date has been a busy year for State Revenue Authorities with a number of interesting legislative developments across all eight jurisdictions. There have also been several cases decided which potentially have far reaching consequences for State taxes and tax more generally.
While not an easy task, I have chosen four key developments to focus on in this paper. The first two represent significant legislative change in a stamp duty and land tax context while the second two, being land rich duty and payroll tax cases respectively, emphasise, amongst other things, the importance of context when applying revenue law.
The four developments I have chosen to focus on are as follows:
1 The Revenue Laws Amendment Bill 2018 (WA) which purports to make significant changes to the duties law of Western Australia and which, at the date of writing, is still the subject of debate in the Western Australian parliament;
2 The foreign purchaser stamp duty and land tax surcharges which now apply in all jurisdictions other than the Northern Territory. The progressive introduction of these surcharges highlights how the States and Territories legislate differently to achieve which is in substance the same policy objective;
3 The High Court decision in Commissioner of State Revenue v Placer Dome Inc  HCA 89 which contains important guidance on the identification and valuation of goodwill; and
4 The Victorian Supreme Court decision in Commissioner of State Revenue v The Optical Superstore Pty Ltd  VSC 524, which found that certain distributions under an express trust did not constitute wages for Victorian payroll tax purposes.