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GAAR chairman ‘doesn’t expect’ cases before 2016

IT WOULD be a “surprise” if the GAAR panel were to consider any tax avoidance cases this calendar year, the body’s chairman Patrick Mears has revealed.

Two years on from the body’s formation – introduced to help enforce the General Anti-Abuse Rule against the most egregious legal tax schemes – Mears and his five-strong team have spent a large portion of their time setting up internal processes and establishing what information is needed from HM Revenue & Customs when considering cases, he told Accountancy Age as part of a wide-ranging interview.

“There was nothing in the legislation about the workings of the panel at all,” he said. “There’s a bit about what we do when cases come along, but other than that there’s nothing in the legislation or preparatory papers and the GAAR study didn’t go into any detail as to how procedures would work for the panel. So it was a case of working out what we ought to be thinking about and putting in place basic code of conduct policies for ourselves and case procedures guidance for HMRC and taxpayers.”

Since those processes have been established, the panel has considered dummy cases to ensure their functionality.

“I think we’re in a better position to tackle cases than we were a year ago,” Mears said. “But we knew there wasn’t going to be any cases in the first couple of years anyway, so it wasn’t as if we were desperately worried at the outset. I think we would not be uncomfortable taking on a case now, whereas this time last year I wouldn’t have particularly liked to.

“We may well not get a case this calendar year. We’re not looking at any at the moment and we haven’t been alerted that one is in the post to us.”

Read the full interview with Patrick Mears on AccountancyAge.com next week.

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