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Comparing US and UK anti-avoidance approaches

Speed read

SPEED READ The US recently codified a judicial doctrine requiring taxpayers to satisfy an ‘economic substance’ standard in order to obtain the desired tax treatment of a transaction. The UK Government has also announced consideration of a general anti-abuse rule. Comparing the US and UK judicial approaches to tax-avoidance transactions may be useful in understanding these new rules. While UK courts have generally shied away from asserting a substance over form doctrine, instead relying on statutory construction principles to adjudicate tax effects, the US courts have been fairly liberal in developing various judicial doctrines to attack perceived tax abuse. Variants of some of these judicial doctrines appear in both countries.

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