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South Africa To Introduce General Anti-Avoidance Laws

by Robert Lee, Tax-News.com, London

06 November 2006


South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel has announced that tough new measures will be introduced as part of the Revenue Laws Amendment Bill to crack down on corporate tax avoidance.

Manuel told Parliament last week that a revised general anti-avoidance rule (GAAR) would target the "most serious elements" of schemes devised purely for the avoidance of taxation, and would be supported by an enhanced system of required reporting known as 'reportable arrangements' to give the government an early detection system.

"At the end of the day, these schemes cost the fiscus billions in tax revenue – money which can be much better spent for society’s benefit elsewhere," stated Manuel

"The goal is to reach a state where these schemes can become 'dead on arrival' when presented to any responsible board of directors," he added.

The GAAR provisions have taken two years to draft and Manuel conceded that the new legislation is contentious due to its complexity, but he countered criticism of the measures by arguing that "complex tax avoidance schemes require complex responses".

"Government has a choice," Manuel continued. "It can sit back in the name of 'legal tradition' and let some unscrupulous individuals deprive the fiscus of vast sums of tax revenue, or take action so that the tax burden is shared equitably and tax revenues are generated to cater for the needs of society at large."

"In this case, Government clearly must choose the latter," he told lawmakers.

The Revenue Laws Amendment Bill gives effect to measures announced by Manuel in the 2006 budget, announced in February.


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