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Abstract

When Whitfords Beach was handed down a quarter of a century ago, it was hailed as a landmark decision which had all but overruled Scottish Australian Mining Co Ltd v FCT (1950)81 CLR 188. It also seemed to indicate that the second limb of s 26 (a) of ITAA 1936 had been unnecessary. The subsequent decision in FCT v Myer Emporium Ltd (1987) 163 CLR 199 indicated that the first limb of that subsection had also een unnecessary. Yet subsequent decisions have avoided the application of Whitfords Beach and shown that Scottish Australian Mining is the more dominant precedent. Despite the prevalence of some dicta about carrying on land development business, Whitfords Beach was a profit‐making scheme case and the central issue was whether a profit making scheme could be constituted by selling alone. Whitfords Beach indicated that it could, though no subsequent case has been decided on this ground. The limited legacy of Whitfords Beach remains significant because, although corporate tax rates are now 30% for revenue and capital gains alike, there is much farmland that is being subdivided by individuals who are escaping tax because of the limited impact of Whitfords Beach.

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