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Back to basics: The GAAR

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The general anti-abuse rule (GAAR) was introduced in 2013 to deter taxpayers from using ‘abusive’ tax schemes. It counteracts arrangements that cannot reasonably be regarded as a reasonable course of action in relation to the relevant tax provisions. Factors considered include the policy intention of the legislation, whether shortcomings in the legislation are exploited and whether there are contrived or abnormal steps. Taxpayer protections include the requirement for an opinion from the GAAR advisory panel before a final notice can be issued. To date, HMRC has issued around 3,700 GAAR opinion notices applying GAAR advisory panel opinions. Penalties were introduced in 2016, and FA 2021 made changes to make the regime work for partnerships.

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