Jenny Wong and Matthew McRae explore the legislative background to the recent Commissioner of Taxation v Hacon case.
The Commissioner of Taxation is required to request further information from an applicant where he or she considers it would be needed to make a private ruling, but also has the discretion to decline to make a ruling that would depend on assumptions about a future event or other matter.
So how do we distinguish a case where the Commissioner can legitimately decline to make a private ruling, from one where he or she has to ask for more information from the taxpayer?
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) recently released a Decision Impact Statement which summarised the Full Federal Court Case: Commissioner of Taxation v Hacon Pty Ltd  FCAFC 181, which dealt with precisely this issue.
In Hacon, the taxpayer (a large grazing outfit) sought a private ruling from the Commissioner about the potential application of Part IVA to a proposed restructure.
The Commissioner ultimately declined to make a ruling on the basis that they would need to make assumptions in order to do so, and compiled a non-exhaustive list of the matters that these assumptions related to in a document provided to the taxpayer.
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