Navigating the Politics of Charity: Reflections on Aid/Watch Inc v. Federal Commissioner of Taxation

42 Pages Posted: 16 May 2012

See all articles by Joyce Chia

Joyce Chia

Independent

Matthew Harding

University of Melbourne - Law School

Ann O'Connell

University of Melbourne - Law School

Date Written: May, 15 2012

Abstract

This article analyses the decision of the High Court in Aid/Watch Inc v Federal Commissioner of Taxation, in which a majority of the Court ruled that an organisation was not necessarily excluded from charitable status because it had a main or dominant political purpose. The article reflects upon the benefits of the decision, especially its infusion of public law principles into charity law, before discussing the uncertainties generated by the decision. It is argued that, ultimately, the decision exposes a hole in the heart of charity law — the absence of a coherent conception of charity. The article concludes with suggestions as to what a coherent conception of charity might look like, and how it might help solve perennial puzzles in charity law.

Keywords: charity law, charity, taxation

JEL Classification: K00, K34

Suggested Citation

Chia, Joyce and Harding, Matthew and O'Connell, Ann, Navigating the Politics of Charity: Reflections on Aid/Watch Inc v. Federal Commissioner of Taxation (May, 15 2012). Melbourne Univeristy Law Review, Vol. 35, No. 2, 2011, U of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No. 584, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2060663

Matthew Harding

University of Melbourne - Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia

Ann O'Connell

University of Melbourne - Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia

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