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Oral rulings

An oral ruling is a form of legally binding advice we give over the phone to taxpayers who are individuals.

Last updated 14 March 2017

An oral ruling is an expression of our opinion of how a provision of the law applies to an individual in relation to their specific circumstances.

Oral rulings are generally given on areas of the law such as personal income tax or the Medicare levy.

Can I rely on an oral ruling?

If you rely on an oral ruling given to you, we are bound to assess your liability under the ruling.

If the oral ruling is incorrect and disadvantages you, we may apply the law in a way that is more favourable to you. Providing we're not prevented from doing so by a time limit imposed by the law.

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Applying for an oral ruling

You can ask us for an oral ruling by phone (you must meet proof of identity requirements), or have your legal representative ask us.

A legal personal representative is:

  • an executor or administrator of an estate of a person who has died
  • a trustee of an estate or a person who is under a legal disability
  • a person who holds a general power of attorney that was granted by another person.

You may withdraw your oral ruling application at any time before the ruling is given.

When we would not give an oral ruling

Oral rulings can't be given on:

  • indirect tax (other than fuel tax)
  • excise matters
  • business matters
  • complex matters
  • matters we have either already ruled on or are in the process of considering for the taxpayer.

Matters are complex and ineligible for an oral ruling if, for example:

  • the decision depends on the interpretation of facts that need examination of documents
  • the facts and circumstances on which the answer is to be based on are open to many interpretations
  • the decision depends on a chain of conclusions to reach the final decision and is not easily answered orally
  • the relevant law is complex and would need considerable research or analysis
  • they involve a calculation that's not covered by an online calculation tool.

Issuing an oral ruling

When we give you an oral ruling it will come with a registration identifier. We won't provide you with a written record of the ruling.

If you prefer advice in writing, you can apply for a private ruling.

See also