Payroll Tax Appeals

Below is a listing of appeals heard by the Supreme Court of South Australia in relation to payroll tax matters since May 1980.

Charitable Purposes

South Australian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry Incorporated v Commissioner of State Taxation [2017] SASC 127

Date of Decision: 31 August 2017

Orders: The appeal against the decision of the Minister for Finance to disallow the objection by the South Australian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry Incorporated (“Business SA”) to a decision made by the Commissioner of State Taxation was dismissed.

Decision: In dismissing Business SA’s appeal, the Honourable Justice Blue held:

  1. To be a charitable purpose within the meaning of Section 48 of the Payroll Tax Act 2009 (the “PTA”) and under the general law, a purpose must be to provide a public benefit as opposed to a private advantage or benefit and it must fall within a recognised category of charitable purpose by reference to principle and authority.
  2. For the purpose of Section 48 of the PTA, the purpose of an institution governed by a board of directors is to be ascertained by reference to the institution’s objects, the institution’s activities, the institution’s communications to members and what is said and done at board meetings. The subjective internal state of mind of individual directors not communicated to the board is irrelevant.
  3. To comprise a dominant purpose within the meaning of Section 48 of the PTA, the purpose must be the ruling, prevailing or most influential purpose. A charitable institution can have a non-charitable purpose provided that it is incidental to the charitable purpose. It can have a non-charitable purpose independent of its charitable purpose, but it must be so minor that the charitable purpose remains the ruling, prevailing or most influential purpose.
  4. Business SA has failed to prove that, on a stand-alone basis, its policy advocacy, member services or commercial services activities are undertaken for the purpose of advancing trade and commerce in South Australia.
  5. Business SA has proved that, on a stand-alone basis, its dominant purpose in undertaking its subsidised programs and apprenticeship activities is to advance trade and commerce in South Australia.
  6. On a holistic assessment, Business SA has not proved that its dominant purpose is to advance trade and commerce in South Australia.
  7. For the purpose of Sub-Section 48(2) of the PTA, the reference to “work of a kind ordinarily performed” is a reference to work of a kind ordinarily performed by charitable institutions having the same charitable purpose as the institution characterised at the appropriate level of generality or specificity.
  8. If Business SA had proved that its dominant purpose is to advance trade and commerce in South Australia, it is likely that it would also have established that all wages were paid to persons engaged exclusively in and for performing work of a kind ordinarily performed in connection with its charitable purpose.  However, it is not necessary or appropriate to decide that question on a hypothetical basis.

Catchwords: PAYROLL TAX – Payroll Tax Act 2009 - exemption for charities – charitable purposes – other purposes beneficial to public – non-charitable purposes – economic and commercial purposes – work of a kind ordinarily performed

Case Summary: South Australian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry Incorporate v Commissioner of State Taxation [2017] SASC 127

Grouping Exclusion Decisions

Port Augusta Medical Centre Pty Ltd v Commissioner of State Taxation [2011] SASC 31

Date of Decision: 10 March 2011

Decision: Appeal dismissed - Appeal is a de novo hearing - Legal test under Section 18I(1) of the Pay-roll Tax Act 1971 (SA) involves the satisfaction of two broad tests before appellant can be severed from group - Both tests must be satisfied in relation to each business carried out by each member of the group - There is no satisfaction that the business carried on by the appellant is not substantially connected with the businesses carried on by the other four group members - Not necessary to consider the independence test.

Catchwords: PAYROLL TAX - Grouping - Discretion to de-group members of a payroll tax group – Section 18I(1) of the Pay-roll Tax Act 1971 (SA) - Carried on substantially independently of - Not substantially connected with.

Case Summary: Port Augusta Medical Centre Pty Ltd v Commissioner of State Taxation [2011] SASC 31

Commissioner of Stamps v Garrett F Hunter Pty Ltd, Meldrick House Pty Ltd and Geoffrey S Vercoe Pty Ltd [1997] SASC 6304

Date of Decision: 13 August 1997

Decision: Appeal allowed – The taxpayers constituted a group under section 18c(a) of the Pay-roll Tax Act 1971 - Section 18C(b) also operated to constitute the taxpayers as a group - Section 18I directs attention in particular to the ownership and control of the two businesses and to the nature of the businesses, which is taken to be a reference to the activities comprising the businesses. The interrelation of business activities, and participation by a person in a position of influence in one business, in the management and decision making of the other business were considered to be relevant matters - Neither practice company should be excluded from the group.

Catchwords: PAYROLL TAX - Pay-roll Tax Act 1971 - Arrangements affecting liability to tax - Grouping provisions - Group of companies and businesses - Common control - Exclusion from group - Whether supplying labour to company in group - Whether performing duties solely for or in connection with a business carried on by practice company - Whether substantially independent of and not substantially connected with other businesses - Exclusion.

Case Summary: Commissioner of Stamps v Garrett F Hunter Pty Ltd, Meldrick House Pty Ltd and Geoffrey S Vercoe Pty Ltd [1997] SASC 6304

Superannuation

Hills Industries Ltd & Anor v Commissioner for State Taxation & Anor [2002] SASC 67

Date of Decision: 1 March 2002

Decision: The Commissioner erred, that the appeal should be allowed and that the assessment or assessments should be revoked.

Catchwords: PAYROLL TAX - Pay-roll Tax Act 1971 - Wages - Payment of money to a superannuation fund - Setting apart of money as a superannuation fund - Amounts credited by the trustee of a superannuation fund to the accounts of members of the fund.

Case Summary: Hills Industries Ltd & Anor v Commissioner of State Taxation& Anor [2002] SASC 67

Employees/Independent Contractors

Roy Morgan Research Centre Pty Ltd v Commissioner of State Taxation [2003] SASC 342

Date of Decision: 2 November 2003

Decision: The interviewers were independent contractors and the payments to them were not wages.

Catchwords: PAYROLL TAX - Pay-roll Tax Act 1971 - Wages - Market research interviewers - Whether employees or independent contractors.

Case Summary: Roy Morgan Research Centre Pty Ltd v Commissioner of State Taxation [2003] SASC 342

The Commissioner of State Taxation v The Roy Morgan Research Centre Pty Ltd [2004] SASC 228

Date of Decision: 17 September 2004

Decision: Appeal allowed - Assessments of the Commissioner of State Taxation restored - Respondent had level of control of that of employer, agreement created by respondent could not designate the type of relationship - The interviewers were employees and therefore the payments made to them are wages.

Catchwords: PAYROLL TAX - Pay-roll Tax Act 1971 - Wages - Independent contractor versus employer/employee relationship.

Case Summary: The Commissioner of State Taxation v The Roy Morgan Research Centre Pty Ltd [2004] SASC 228

Peter F. Burns Pty Ltd v Commissioner of Stamps [1980] SASC 4876

Date of Decision: 13 May 1980

Decision: Appeal dismissed - The critical question in the case is whether the change in the basis of remuneration, which occurred on 1st February 1971, and the consequential changes in the appellant’s methods of operation also changed the status of the salesmen from that of 'employee' to 'independent contractor'.

Catchwords: PAYROLL TAX – Pay-roll Tax Act 1971 - Wages paid to an employee - Whether land salesmen were employees or independent contractors.

Case Summary: Peter F. Burns Pty Ltd v Commissioner of Stamps [1980] SASC 4876

Public Benevolent Purposes

Repromed P/L v Lucas & The Commissioner of State Taxation [2000] SAC203

Date of Decision: 30 June 2000

Decision: Appeal dismissed - Repromed cannot satisfy the requirement that the institution is not conducted for individual profit or gain, therefore not a public benevolent institution.

Catchwords: PAYROLL TAX - Pay-roll Tax Act 1971 - Employer is a provider of health services - Appeal from refusal of Treasurer to allow exemption - Whether employer is "public benevolent institution" - Whether employer provides health services "otherwise than for the purpose of profit or gain" - Whether exempt.

Case Summary: Repromed P/L v Lucas & The Commissioner of State Taxation [2000] SASC 203