Case U5

P Gerber SM

KL Beddoe SM

Administrative Appeals Tribunal

Decision date: 4 December 1986.

Dr P. Gerber and K.L. Beddoe (Senior Members)

In this case the applicant was employed as a head teacher by the Department of Technical and Further Education in the two years now under review. He is seeking to claim an amount of $139 in each year for newspapers.

2. After some examination, both by the respondent and by members of the Tribunal, we were finally able to reach some insight just how this amount was arrived at and for what purpose the newspapers were put. It seems that for 46 weeks in each of the two years, the applicant bought The Sydney Morning Herald on a daily basis, the National Times once a week and The Australian and The Financial Review on odd occasions.

3. Much of the evidence as to the use to which these papers were put was unsatisfactory. However, sufficient has emerged to satisfy us that the papers in part were used for purposes of the employment. It was deposed that relevant articles were cut out and discussed with staff and/or classes, emerging trends in employment requirements were noted, and some changes in technology sooner or later found its way into the curriculum. To this extent some apportionment can be permitted. In reaching our decision, we can do no better than quote from Dr Beck's decision reported in Case S12,
85 ATC 165 where at p. 169, para. 7, Dr Beck noted:

"I will deal immediately with the claim for newspapers and preface my remarks by observing that it is the type of decision that I deplore for one can rarely be right. Almost every intelligent income earner in our society buys a daily paper and reads more or less of it for private purposes. When such a taxpayer uses part of the derived information in the course of his or her work the proportion of expenditure for income earning purposes is irrelevant. That proportion is simply incidental to private expenditure and no `extent' can be recognised as `incurred in gaining assessable income' (sec. 51(1)). However, where (as here) a taxpayer maintains that the main reason for buying the papers was to search for clippings which, on unrefuted evidence, are used in the course of teaching duties, I consider the extent of work usage must be determined and the appropriate deduction allowed. No one can make such a determination with certainty. I find it hard to accept that this taxpayer, an earnest and highly intelligent young woman, did not make approximately the same significant private use of her daily paper as other earnest and intelligent people do, and this has influenced my assessment of the proportion of newspaper expenditure that could be considered to be private. I would allow her a deduction for one quarter of the claimed expenditure..."

4. Dr Beck's hesitation in reaching any figure is one which we must echo once again in this case. Whilst, of course, an apportionment in one case cannot govern the facts in another, nevertheless, on the evidence we have not been persuaded that a deduction in excess of one quarter of the expenditure can be justified.

5. In the result we would allow an amount by way of deduction of $35 in each of the two years now under review.

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