ICAS calls for general anti-avoidance rule

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland has called on Gordon Brown
to consult on the introduction of a general anti-avoidance rule (GAAR).

ICAS said taxpayers and advisers had become ‘over-burdened’ by the
‘ever-increasing volume and complexity’ of new anti-avoidance legislation, which
included retrospective and anti-avoidance measures.

The Institute argued that the introduction of a GAAR could improve the
situation and needed to be accompanied by the repeal of most existing tax
avoidance provisions and the launch of a new pre-transaction ruling system to
give certainty.

‘The aim of a general anti-avoidance rule would be to reduce tax avoidance,’
Ian Dewar, immediate past Convener of the ICAS Taxation Committee, said. ‘It is
important that businesses and other taxpayers who are not engaged in
unacceptable avoidance should have the benefit of certainty in their tax
affairs, and this could be achieved by a new ruling system – enabling taxpayers
to confirm that they are not breaching the GAAR.’  

The move from ICAS, which has written to the Chancellor on the matter, marks
an about turn from the Institute, which had previously opposed the GAAR concept.
ICAS said it had changed its position ‘as a result of the Government’s ongoing
purge of tax avoidance’.

‘The growing complexity of the tax system denies the average taxpayer the
ability to comply with the legal obligation to self assess their tax
liabilities,’ Dewar said. ‘The sheer complexities of anti-avoidance rules,
particularly those that have retrospective effect, create uncertainty for

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