By Max Clarke

Graham Aaronson QC today notified the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke, of the experts who will work on his study into a General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR), and the areas they will cover.

This follows the Exchequer Secretary's announcement in December that a study group would be set up to explore the case for a GAAR in the UK. This is part of the Government's commitment to tackling tax avoidance and building sustainable defences to address long-standing avoidance risks.

Through a series of loopholes, individuals including billionaire topshop owner Sir Phillip Green who, according UKuncut- the group behind a series of protests targeting Sir Green’s shops in December-, owes the government £285 million; are persistently escaping the taxes they owe. It is hoped that the GAAR will make such evasion impossible.

Highlighting the ongoing issue of individuals and businesses escaping taxes at a cost to the UK economy of billions of pounds a year, an online poll being carried out by economic campaign group False Economy allows users to vote for their ‘favourite tax dodger. Sir Phillip Green, KPMG, Google and Barclays are currently among the top 10.

Those working with Graham Aaronson in the committee are: John Bartlett, Judith Freedman, Sir Launcelot Henderson, Lord Hoffmann, Howard Nowlan, John Tiley

Topics which the committee will look at include;
* consideration of existing experience with GAARs and other anti avoidance principles in other jurisdictions;
* what a UK GAAR could usefully achieve; and
* what the basic approach of a GAAR should be.
The study group will complete its work by the 31st October 2011 and will report its conclusions to the Exchequer Secretary.

The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury , David Gauke, said:

"We are committed to tackling tax avoidance. I'm delighted that Graham Aaronson and his study group will be bringing their collective expertise to bear on whether a General Anti Avoidance Rule could deter and counter tax avoidance, whilst providing certainty, retaining a tax regime that is attractive to businesses, and minimising costs for businesses and HMRC.

I very much look forward to receiving his conclusions later this year. "

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