Cracking down on avoidance is always a crowd-pleaser and the 2013 Budget contained its share of targeted anti avoidance measures, much of which had been announced previously. The most radical change is the inclusion of a General Anti Abuse Rule (GAAR) to be introduced as part of the Finance Bill 2013.
Centred on the concept of fairness, the implementation of the rule will be the interesting part because it revolves around whether arrangements are ‘abusive’ in the eyes of HMRC. Taxpayers will be notified if their arrangements are to be counteracted and there is to be a mechanism for representations arguing against HMRC’s stance. An Advisory Panel will adjudicate.
The scope of arrangements is deliberately very widely drawn as one would expect. HMRC guidance will be vital as will, we suspect, a modicum of patience on all sides as the new regime beds down.