A taxpayer has sued the Taxation Commissioner for $450k as a result of his failure to accept a $1.00 “Bill of Exchange” to settle a $97k tax assessment.

It’s just one of the adventurous devices that creative taxpayers have used in recent times to challenge conventional tax assessments.

Phillip Atkinson received an income tax assessment in the sum of $97k on 4 July 2013.

He imaginatively “converted” the invoice to a $112.5k “negotiable instrument” promising to pay the debt in the future on terms he dictated.

The home-made “Bill” was said to be redeemable only at a restaurant-bar on the corner of Rider Boulevard and Mary St in Rhodes in Sydney’s west between 10am and 10.30 am on 16 July.

If ATO deputy commissioner Rob Ravanello failed to front at the exact time and place specified, presumably he would – on Atkinson’s construction – forfeited its value and the right to recover any tax from the taxpayer.

The extraordinary proposition had already been rejected by a Federal Court judge who considered the proceedings “frivolous or vexatious” and tossed out the claim without a hearing.

Three appeal judges agreed Atkinson’s case was “hopeless” and the inventive claim was from the world of make believe.

“No reasonable person could properly treat the argument is genuine and content that the appellant’s had a grievance they were entitled to bring to court.”

Similar “Bill of Exchange” arguments have surfaced in recent months against foreclosing bank home loan lenders. All have been struck down in the courts.

In another equally creative proposition, Queensland’s Supreme Court was challenged by serial litigant Alan Skyring who for the past 40 years has been petitioning Australian courts to permit a rehearing of his already rejected argument, that the Australian banknotes are not legal tender because gold and silver coins are the only currency referred to in the Magna Carta of 1215.

Fifty or so sets of court proceedings – that do not necessarily concern tax liability – have been commenced by Skyring (and rejected) and the list is growing.

The costs orders which he collected along the way have resulted in his bankruptcy.

Having been declared a “vexatious litigant” by Queensland’s Justice Margaret White in April 1995, he is no longer entitled to issue legal proceedings in the state without leave of the court

His latest “Quixotic” application came before Judge Martin Daubney who observed that his novel arguments were finally determined by the High Court of Australia in 1985 and Queensland Court of Appeal as recently as 2009.

The court ruled that the new action proposed was clearly “vexatious” and the court was required to dismiss his application.

Atkinson v Commissioner of Taxation [2015] FCAFC 18 Foster J, Yates J, Gleeson J 23/02/2015


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