Measures tackling avoidance feature strongly again as one of the government’s more uncontroversial sources of funding to balance the books. The tax avoidance measures included in the Autumn Statement mix pre-announced changes with new provisions targeting specific identified avoidance arrangements.
The planned penalty for arrangements subject to the General Anti-Abuse Rule (GAAR) has now been formally set at 60% (in line with the amount proposed in consultation), and the anticipated introduction of rules addressing hybrid mismatch arrangements has been confirmed for 1 January 2017. The details of the hybrid mismatch rules are still unknown and concerns remain that these rules could impact on many commercial arrangements that do not have a tax avoidance motive.
Alongside these anticipated changes and confirmation of the planned penalties and criminal charges for tax evaders and those that enable tax evasion, a number of targeted changes were announced addressing specific stamp duty, capital allowance and intangibles tax planning arrangements.
Given the government’s commitment to raising £5bn a year by tackling avoidance, aggressive tax planning, evasion, non-compliance and “imbalances in the tax system”, alongside an investment of £800m to support this commitment, tax avoidance measures are likely to remain a strong feature of Autumn Statements and Budgets for the remainder of this parliament.