Recent Cases

Hornsby Shire Council v Commonwealth of Australia [2023] HCA 19 (14 June 2023) (Kiefel CJ; Gageler, Gordon, Edelman, Steward, Gleeson and Jagot JJ)


Constitutional law (Cth) – Taxation – Where Commonwealth makes grants to States for local government purposes under Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995 (Cth) (“Local Government Assistance Act”) – Where States agreed that local government would make “notional GST” payments notwithstanding prohibition in s 114 of Constitution against Commonwealth imposing tax on State property – Where s 15(aa) of Local Government Assistance Act provided as a condition on grants of financial assistance that States withhold from local governing bodies amounts representing notional GST payments that should have, but have not, been paid by those bodies – Where s 15(c) of Local Government Assistance Act provided that where State failed to comply with s 15(aa), State must repay to Commonwealth amount not more than amount which State failed to pay – Where plaintiff, a local government body, paid notional GST arising from sale of vehicle under protest – Whether notional GST was tax on State property contrary to s 114 of Constitution.

Words and phrases – “Business Activity Statement”, “circuitous device”, “compulsory exaction”, “condition”, “financial assistance”, “forced benevolence”, “goods and services tax”, “grants”, “GST legislation”, “GST revenue”, “Intergovernmental Agreement”, “legal compulsion”, “liability”, “local government”, “notional GST”, “practical compulsion”, “tax”, “taxable supply”, “voluntary act”.