Potentially one of the most vital tax changes in recent memory came a step closer today when the Government launched a consultation on its proposed General Anti-Abuse Rule, which will run until 14th September 2012. I will in due course publish the Simpson Burgess Nash response to this consultation on this blog, but I can guarantee that it will be a positive response, based on the presentation from Professor John Tiley, a member of the Aaronson review committee, which I heard at the Chartered Institute of Taxation Conference in April.

This of course assumes that the proposals have not been significantly changed in the consultation document, which hopefully they have not, as what Professor Tiley outlined was in my view precisely what this country’s tax system needs to combat large-scale, aggressive, artificial tax avoidance schemes, typically (but not exclusively) undertaken by large multinational corporations at an enormous cost to the exchequer in taxes foregone.

I am particularly encouraged in this respect by the words of David Gauke:

“.. a deterrent to those engaging in artificial and abusive avoidance schemes …. minimising the impact on the vast majority of taxpayers who pay a fair share.”

and by the following quote from the consultation document reagrding the scope of the GAAR as being expected to affect:

” a small number of relatively affluent taxpayers.”

The proposed scope of the GAAR has been extended beyond that originally proposed to include stamp duty land tax, inheritance tax and fuel duties, although not VAT at this stage. It is however proposed that there would be power to add further taxes to the scope of the GAAR in future.

For once living in interesting times may prove to a blessing, not a curse…