oa Meditari : Research Journal of the School of Accounting Sciences - The purposive approach to the interpretation of fiscal legislation - the winds of change



This study examines the way in which our judiciary approach the interpretation of fiscal legislation. It traces the roots of the historical approach (the strict and literal approach), its shortcomings and the modifications to such an approach when it leads to an absurdity. It then analyses whether the advent of the Constitution (Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act 108 of 1996) has been a catalyst for a change from the strict and literal approach. The conclusion reached is that the Constitution has been a catalyst for a change in approach - to a purposive approach. One of the results of the change in approach means that the taxpayer now has a realistic opportunity to question and even have unjust and unfair interpretation decisions of the past reversed in the appropriate circumstances.


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