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Australian Taxation Law: Legislation

Local Government Legislation

The local government sector is a statutory creation of the States and derives its powers from State and Northern Territory legislation. State Constitutions all recognise local governments.  The ACT has no local governments, and the Northern Territory does not have a constitution. State and NT legislation gives power to local governments (city and shire / regional councils) to impose rates on property - this power is contained in the following State and NT local government Acts:

Local Government Act 1993 (NSW) Ch 15

Local Government Act (NT) Ch 11

Local Government Act 2009 (Qld) Ch 4 Pt 1

Local Government Act 1999 (SA) Ch 10

Local Government Act 1989 (Vic) Part 8

  • Local government is guaranteed by s 74A of the Constitution Act 1975 (Vic).

Local Government Act 1993 (Tas) Part 9 

Local Government Act 1995 (WA) Pt 6 Div 6

For more information about the taxing power of local governments, see Chapter 5 of Brian Dollery and Lin Crase, Australian local government economics (UNSW Press, 2006) Ba 352.140994 AUST 


Commonwealth Legislation

By virtue of s 55 of the Australian Constitution, the Commonwealth Parliament must ensure that the laws imposing taxes deal only with the imposition of taxes and deal with one subject of tax only. As a result, there are multiple statutes at the Commonwealth level, each imposing and regulating one subject of tax - for example, income tax, excise duties, customs duties, goods and services tax, fringe benefits tax, luxury car tax, wine equalisation tax and other indirect taxes. For each subject of tax, there are usually an imposition Act (which imposes the liability for tax), a rates Act (which specifies the rate of tax) and an assessment Act (which contains the rules to work out what is subject to tax and to calculate the tax payable). 

The main Commonwealth Acts (the links below take you to the official legislation on the open access Federal Register of Legislation database) concern:

To see ALL Commonwealth tax legislation, use SAI Global's Lawlex (open access)  >> select Browse Legislation >> uncheck all jurisdictions except Cth) >> Select TAXATION from the 'Select a Category' dropdown menu >> select a subcategory and then click the Browse button at the bottom of the page. From the page for each Act, you can link to the full text on the Commonwealth official legislation website, the Federal Register of Legislation (open access), from where you can see historical versions of the Act, as well as the Bill, Explanatory Memorandum and the Second Reading Speech introducing the Bill. 

Annotated (Section by Section) Commonwealth Acts

Annotated Acts include up to date information about amendments, repeals and historical notes that identify the timing and wording of amendments. Some of the following annotators also include cases and authoritative commentary.

Australian Federal Income Tax Reporter (ITAA 1997) and Australian Federal Tax Reporter (ITAA 1936 and others) on CCH Intelliconnect (UniMelb staff & student access) contain section by section treatment of all Commonwealth tax Acts - including cases, tax rulings and commentary.


LawNow Legislation on Lexis Advance (UniMelb staff & student access) - browse to the specific Act and then the section. Click on the blue arrows next to the legislation, to see cases and commentary on this section. Note that:

  • Links will take you to the full text of the cases and / or to Casebase summaries, and to commentary in Halsbury's Laws of Australia.
  • This database is selective in its inclusion of cases but the cases will be highly relevant.


CHECKPOINT's Research Platform includes the following annotated Commonwealth Acts:


The Federal Statutes Annotations on LexisNexisAu provides section by section treatment of all Commonwealth legislation. Click on the Amended Sections and Annotations link to see amendments, cases that interpret that section, and the legal principles enunciated in the cases. 


State & Territory Legislation

The power of the States and Territories to tax is limited by the Australian Constitution (see the Sources of Australian Tax box in this Guide), so to ensure sufficient levels of revenue, these jurisdictions impose other taxes. The three key State & Territory tax regimes are Stamp DutyLand Tax and Payroll Tax. See an overview of these three taxes on the ATO website.

Each of the eight State and Territory jurisdictions has its own powers to impose taxes, so jurisdiction-specific rules apply, and the taxes are administered by revenue authorities pursuant to their own tax administration legislation. The State and Territory revenue authorities are listed below, with links to all of their taxing legislation on their official legislation websites, and in some cases to their revenue rulings and cases:

To find all State and Territory tax and duties Acts and Regulations, use the open access part of SAI Global's Lawlex >> select Browse Legislation >> tick the Jurisdictions you want to search (if you want eg: stamp duty for all states and territories, only uncheck the Cth) >> Select TAXATION from the 'Select a Category' dropdown menu >> select STAMP DUTY as a subcategory and then go to Browse. From the page for each Act, you can link to the full text on the official legislation website for that jurisdiction, and also see historical versions of the Act, as well as the Bill, Explanatory Statement or Memorandum and the Second Reading Speech introducing the Bill.