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Victorian man makes tax claim for ‘expensive’ legal bills

A Victorian businessman tried to claim tax credits to cover his legal bills for the “wide and expensive” litigation he was facing.

user iconNaomi Neilson 02 April 2024 Big Law
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Tax agent William Lewski claimed input tax credits through his company, Konebada, a trustee of the William Lewski Family Trust, for invoices paid to a partner with Strongman Crouch, both principals of SBA Law, and a tax consultancy lawyer.

When the Commissioner of Taxation rejected this, Lewski turned to the Federal Court to argue that Konebada acquired taxable supplies and its acquisition was made in “carrying on an enterprise”.

Lewski was able to successfully establish the bills were for taxable supplies as it had a “contractual right” to request lawyers provide legal services to Lewski for relevant transition or court proceedings.


However, the court also found there was “no evidence” to support the argument that the legal services were “made in the course of an enterprise” involving Konebada providing services for Lewski.

The application to reject the commissioner’s decision was refused.

Before the primary judge, one lawyer said Konebada was “merely paying the bills” and was not involved in the litigation.

Another lawyer said Konebada was “involved” because he was told to bill the company, but the judge characterised the lawyer’s evidence to “be in the nature of self-serving advocacy”.

Lewski returned to the Federal Court late last year to argue that Konebada was denied procedural fairness because Lewski’s “status as a tax agent was relied on by the primary judge as a reason for rejecting his evidence” but was never put to him in the witness box.

“Konebada contended that, by reason of the failure to put this matter to Mr Lewski, adverse findings against him and other findings affected by them, must be set aside,” he submitted.

Konebada also contended the primary judge did not identify “any path of reasoning” by which Lewski’s position as a tax agent was reason enough to reject his evidence, and the primary judge’s reasons had displayed an “implicit suspicion of tax agents”.

In a recent judgment, the full court of the Federal Court rejected Lewski’s appeal, finding the primary judge’s decision “does not occasion substantial injustice”.

The court also found, in the circumstances of the case, “that the activities in question were carried out by Konebada”.

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