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Waste Disposal: Deductions, Legal Fees Report (Assessment)

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Updated: May 5th, 2022

In accordance with Australia’s taxation legislation, a company or business is eligible for tax deductions if they incur expenses that will ultimately lead to an increase in the company’s taxable income. S 8-1 gives positive and negative limbs that outline the extent of allowable deductions.

S 8-1 Positive and Negative limbs:

  • First positive limb:
    • The extent to which outgoing expenses are incurred in gaining or producing assessable income.
  • Second positive limb:
    • The outgoings are necessary expenses incurred in carrying on a business.
    • Negative limbs:
    • Capital
    • Private or domestic in nature

Legal Fees

Firstly it needs to be determined under which limb this deduction can be made. The legal fees were incurred while trying to reinstate Waste Disposal’s incinerator license which represents 40% of its assessable income. Therefore the legal fees are an allowable deduction under the second positive limb as they were necessarily incurred to carry on the business. Next arises the question as to whether the expenditure was prudent or appropriate (Magna Alloys). With regards to the Hallstrom’s case, Waste Disposal’s legal costs went to enabling them to conduct business as usual as opposed to making a profit. Examining the situation under the capital limb the question needs to be asked whether they need to incur legal fees was integral to the business. The $160,000 in legal fees was spent seeking to reinstate the incinerator license which represents nearly half of the business. As such it should be a deductible expense as it was necessary to the carrying on of the business.

Cost of Plant Modification and Equipment Installation

As in the above situation, it needs to be determined whether the expenditure was necessarily incurred in carrying on the business and thus deductible under the second limb. With reference to the Snowden and Wilson case, the expenditure incurred in this instance by Waste Disposal is of a nature that satisfies the positive limb but also counts as a capital expenditure. Therefore there is a need to conduct the Sun Newspapers ‘Business Entity’ test wherein the character of the advantage sought, the manner in which it is enjoyed and the means adopted to obtain it need to be ascertained.

Waste Disposal incurred an expenditure of $220,000 to modify the plant and install equipment that would enable them to have their license reinstated. As this was the only way to ensure a reinstatement of their license and thus a continuation of the incinerator division of their business such an expense is deductible as it satisfies both the first and second positive limb. The $220,000 was a necessary expenditure necessarily incurred in producing assessable income as well as carrying on the business.

However, the part of the $220,000 that was paid to the technician for the feasibility study is not tax-deductible. This relates directly to the capital limb and thus it needs to be asked whether this particular expense goes to the heart of the business. Given that with their license re-instated they can conduct business as usual this particular expenditure goes to bolstering their profit-yielding structure. As such the technician’s consultation fees are not tax-deductible.

Relevant cases:

  • Magna Alloys –legal expenses were deductible as they were expenditures necessarily incurred that ‘arose out of the day to day activities of the taxpayer.’
  • Hallstroms – Expenditure incurred while preventing extension of a competitors patent was necessary to preserve ongoing business.
  • Snowden & Wilson – Expenditure was necessarily incurred in continuing business.
  • Sun News Papers – Expenditure was incurred while trying to protect and preserve business.

Reference

Taxpayers Australia. (2011). Business deductions – Taxpayers Australia. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Waste Disposal: Deductions, Legal Fees." May 5, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/waste-disposal-deductions-legal-fees/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Waste Disposal: Deductions, Legal Fees'. 5 May.

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