a deduction for education expenses

Ms Anstis claimed a deduction for education expenses against her youth allowance income, which was denied by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Ms Anstis (with the assistance of her father, a lawyer) appealed that the ATO had not applied tax legislation appropriately. The ATO having lost one case then appealed to the High Court.

The High Court on 11 November 2010 dismissed the Australian Tax Commissioner’s appeal against the decision of the Full Federal Court in FC of T v Anstis. The Full Federal Court had previously decided that Ms Anstis, who received a youth allowance as a university student, was entitled to a tax deduction for her education expenses incurred in order to derive her income.

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The full bench of the High Court held that the expenses were incurred in the gaining of the youth allowance and were not of a private or domestic nature, under the general deduction provisions. In a media release following the High Court’s decision, the ATO Commissioner said the ATO was considering the decision and would advise taxpayers on potential claims.

Discuss the following:

•What is the role of the ATO as an executive body? (2 marks)
•Does it make law? (2 marks)
•How does this case reflect the interaction of the different bodies under the separation of powers doctrine? (3 marks)
•What is the significance of the High Court decision in terms of tax law as it is applied within Australia? (3 marks)

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