What is GAAR?

Each component of the expansion of GAAR will give some idea about it. GAAR is General Anti Avoidance Rule. It is an anti tax avoidance regulation. As the name suggests, it is set of laws aimed at curtailing tax avoidance in general. To understand GAAR, we should understand tax avoidance.

Tax avoidance is deliberate measures to avoid or reduce tax burden by an individual or a company. Tax avoidance, is by and large not defined in taxing statutes. Tax avoidance is, nevertheless, the outcome of actions taken by the assessee, which is not illegal or forbidden by the law as such. The purpose here is to reduce tax burden.

GAAR is a set of rules aimed to check tax avoidance. Tax avoidance is legal; but now, large scale revenue loss is occurring due to aggressive tax planning by corporate using avoidance opportunities. Governments in many countries are introducing anti- avoidance rules to check this revenue loss from excessive avoidance.

Anti Avoidance Rules are generally existing in many countries in two categories, viz, general and specific. In the case of the former, the legislation will be GAAR whereas in the case of the latter, the legislation is in the form of Specific Avoidance called, SAAR. Special rules are targeted at individual, case by case specific provisions. Legislations with respect to general rules are known as GAAR and legislations with respect to special rules are known as SAAR.

GAAR in India

In India, the GAAR concept was introduced under the DTC Bill on August 2009. Later, the date for its full implementation was rescheduled to 2017 (as per budget 2015). A GAAR framework was ratified the government in 2012.  It has been criticized on account of the ambiguities in its scope and application, lack of safeguards and subjective authorizes with the he tax officials. Because of these uncertainties and concerns associated with the GAAR, the law has been postponed to April 2017.

The Shome Committee and later the government have clarified that GAAR provisions should/will not be applied to Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements. Preparation for the launch of GAAR-legal, administrative etc are going on for a fool proof anti avoidance regime.