Aaronson casts doubt on statutory GAAR

THE WORKING GROUP set up to the study the feasibility of a general anti avoidance rule (GAAR) has cast doubt on whether it will be possible to develop a set of statutory rules.

Graham Aaronson, who leads the group, sent a letter to the Treasury updating officials on the group’s position. The letter said that it has reached a consensus on the advantages and disadvantages of a GAAR.

Aaronson said his group had developed a “conceptual framework of principles” to be embodied in a GAAR. Over the coming weeks it will consider whether it would be possible to develop the principles into legislation that would be “sufficiently effective, clear and certain to merit its enactments”, he wrote.

However, he added: “I should emphasise that we do not yet know whether it will be feasible to develop the conceptual framework into a set of statutory rules fit for enactment.”

The group will take into account any new points raised in consultations with various interested groups including CIoT, ICAEW, ICAS and the CBI, he said.

James Roberts, a partner at Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, said: “Given that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to a GAAR, with benefits as well as potential downsides for all concerned, it is perhaps encouraging to see the Study Group sounding a note of caution that they do not yet know whether statutory rules will prove feasible even thought they claim to have reached agreement on the concepts involved.

“Interested parties will therefore no doubt consider there is still much to play for with Graham Aaronson’s invitation for views ahead of the expected completion of its work in October.”

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