Tax appeals from SAT decisions to the Supreme Court of WA

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SAT Appeals

An appeal against the decision of the State Administrative Tribunal ('SAT') may be commenced in the Supreme Court of Western Australia within a period of 28 days after the day on which the SAT's decision is made, or if the SAT gives oral reasons for the decision and the appellant then requests it to give written reasons under section 78 of the State Administrative Tribunal Act 2004, the day on which the written reasons are given to the appellant.

It should be noted that the Commissioner has a right to appeal the SAT’s decision, not merely the taxpayer.

Which Act should be used to commence the appeal?

Appeals from the SAT pursuant to the section 43A of the Taxation Administration Act 2003 (WA) are of a broader ambit and a somewhat different character to those brought pursuant to the generic provisions contained in section 105 of the State Administrative Tribunal Act 2004 (WA).

Pursuant to the Taxation Administration Act 2003, an appeal from a decision of the SAT in connection with a revenue assessment or decision can be brought without leave of the court on a question of law, or a question of fact, or both. Such an appeal is by way of rehearing.

By contrast, appeals to the Supreme Court brought pursuant to section 105 of the State Administrative Tribunal Act 2004 can only be brought with leave, and can only be brought on questions of law.

What is a question of law?

It is important to firstly note that an appeal on a question of law is narrower than an appeal which merely involves a question of law and a question of mixed fact and law is not a question of law for the purposes of section 105(2) of the State Administrative Tribunal Act 2004.

It was stated in Tuite v Administrative Appeals Tribunal that the words “question of law” encompass matters concerning not only the interpretation of a federal enactment or the enunciation of the principle of the common law or equity, but also the breach of any duty which the Tribunal was bound by law to perform and the failure of which to perform may lead to the setting aside of the decision.

Examples of issues dealt with as questions of law include:

  1. misconstruing a section of an Act;
  2. where there is no evidence in support of the findings made by a tribunal; and
  3. jurisdictional error which includes a denial of procedural fairness.

Establishing an error of law is not sufficient. There must be an error of law which might have affected the ultimate decision.

What tax related decisions can be appealed?

Examples of appeals against tax related decisions made by the SAT include:

  1. payroll tax; and
  2. duty assessments.

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