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Who can apply for a ruling?

Any person (including a company, trust and other unincorporated body) in their own right, or on behalf of a person who is yet to come into legal existence (like a company yet to be incorporated), can apply for a private or product ruling. The person must legally exist before the ruling can be issued.

An agent can apply on behalf of a person(s), provided that the agent has the written consent of the applicant(s).

For private rulings, the person must be, or intend to be, a party to the arrangement or be the person affected and can apply either individually or jointly with other persons.

For product rulings, the applicant must be, or intend to be, a party to the arrangement or be a promoter of the arrangement.

For short-process rulings, the applicant must meet the eligibility requirements.


We are required by law to charge an application fee and an hourly fee for preparing private and product rulings. All fees quoted include GST.

  • The application fee of $322.00 covers the cost of reviewing your application to establish whether it is valid and complete and the first two hours working on your application.
  • Thereafter a fee of $161.00 per hour or part-hour for all applications is applied.
  • For APAs, you are required to pay the application fee of $322 but no further fee is payable other than overseas travel costs if required.

We'll send you a written estimate of the likely cost of your ruling, usually within two weeks of receiving your application. We will not do any work on your application until we receive written confirmation approving our estimate.

We can only provide an estimate of our fees, and not a guaranteed "price". If we find the complexity of the issues requires further time, we may increase our estimate, and seek your approval to continue.

The cost of a private or product ruling can vary significantly.

As a guide, the cost for private or product rulings ranges between $5,000 and $45,000. The average fee is approximately $15,000 reflecting the fact that many binding rulings relate to substantial commercial transactions.

For information about fees for short-process rulings, see Apply for a short-process ruling.

Partial fee waiver

The general principle is that fees are chargeable for binding rulings based on the time it takes us to consider the application.

However, we can waive part or all of the fee payable for a binding ruling application if it is fair and reasonable to do so in the circumstances.

In practice, we'll only waive fees in limited circumstances.

Ways to pay the fee

You can pay your application fee (and any other rulings fee) electronically using your online bank account.

Make internet payments through your bank account using the following details:

Bank Westpac
Account Inland Revenue
Number 03 0049 0001100 027
Particulars (IRD #) 123-456-789 or 012-345-678
Reference RUL
Payee code Blank

What a ruling encompasses

Binding rulings apply to "arrangements"(although some situations may not require there to be an arrangement). An “arrangement” is any agreement, contract, plan or understanding (whether enforceable or not), including any steps and transactions that carry it into effect. It also includes background information Inland Revenue considers necessary or relevant for a private or product ruling.

Private ruling may be made on either a single arrangement, person or item of property or a recurring arrangement. A recurring arrangement is a series of identical transactions the applicant enters into with any number of other parties, eg, selling TVs on hire purchase.

We can issue private or product rulings on transactions that have been entered into, or proposed arrangements that are "seriously contemplated".

We issue rulings on the basis of the information and facts provided to us though we may ask questions to clarify and confirm the facts provided.

Inland Revenue can inquire into the correctness of the facts either before or after making the ruling. If the facts are incorrect, the ruling may not be binding.

Pre-lodgement meetings

The purpose of a pre-lodgement meeting (PLM) is to help you decide whether you want to apply for a ruling, and if so, to submit the best application possible.

If you want a draft ruling within three months, you (or your agent) must contact us to arrange a PLM. In this discussion the requirement for a PLM may be waived, for example, if your application is a straightforward reissue of an existing ruling.

The PLM typically involves:

  • gaining a preliminary understanding of the issues
  • discussing the scope of the ruling you're looking for (which could help you to focus on the most important issues)
  • letting you know what information you'll need to supply with your application (eg, relevant documents, specific areas of analysis or transaction pre-tax and post-tax cash flows)
  • discussing our timeframes
  • telling you about our fees, that are payable irrespective of the outcome of your application

A PLM can help you decide whether you want to go ahead and apply for a ruling and help you submit the best application possible.

Find out more information in our "Guidelines for pre-lodgement meetings"

We may have additional meetings with you while we consider an application, to help us understand and clarify factual matters, or to discuss any concerns we may have.

How long it takes to consider a private or product ruling application

Generally, we'll complete our consideration of your application and send you a draft ruling (or contrary view) within 10 weeks of receiving a complete application.

However, the timeframe for delivering a draft ruling (or contrary view) becomes 6 months from the date we receive your application if:

  • it has more than 8 legal issues or
  • we have not had a PLM with you (unless we've waived that requirement), or
  • it's an APA.

A contrary view is a letter setting out our conclusions and reasoning if we consider that we cannot make the ruling as requested.

These timeframes exclude the time where we're waiting for:

  • confirmation of our estimated costs, or
  • any information we've requested where we can progress the application without the information and we’ve advised you or your agent that we’ve put the project on hold.

If you have a genuine pressing need for your ruling more quickly than 10 weeks, we strongly recommend you tell us this (and why). We'll do our best to meet your timeframes, but we still need to be satisfied that the interpretation in a ruling is correct, so a shorter timeframe will not always be possible.

How long a ruling applies for

Each private or product ruling specifies the period or tax year(s) it applies for, and only binds Inland Revenue for that period or tax year.

In practice, we'll ordinarily issue rulings for a period of three years. For information on when we'll rule for a period other than three years, see QB 17/03: Tax Administration Act 1994 – the period for which a private or product ruling applies.

When private and product rulings are not binding

The main advantage of a private or product ruling is that it's binding on Inland Revenue. If a taxpayer applies the tax law in the way stated in the ruling, Inland Revenue must follow the ruling, provided the taxpayer satisfies all stipulated conditions. The applicant, however, is not required to follow the ruling.

It's very important to note that a private or product ruling will not be binding on Inland Revenue if:

  • there's a material difference between the facts identified in the ruling and what is actually entered into
  • the applicant materially omits or misrepresents information,
  • a stipulated condition in the ruling is not satisfied.

Private and product rulings are only binding on the person(s) stated in the ruling. They are not binding for any other person or situation, no matter how similar the facts may be. If you need certainty on how the tax laws apply to a transaction, you will need a ruling on that specific transaction.

Tax law changes

A private or product ruling does not apply from the date a tax law is repealed or amended, if it changes the way the law applies in the ruling. If a relevant tax law changes and you have a private or product ruling, you can apply for a status ruling to determine the effect of the law change.