The General Anti Avoidance Rule (GAAR)- proposed by the then Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee during the annual budget 2012-13- is anti-tax avoidance rule, drafted by the Union Government of India, which prevents tax evaders, from routing investments through tax havens like Mauritius, Luxemburg, Switzerland.
According to the draft, GAAR will come into effect from 1 April 2013. As per the guidelines, FII not opting for treaty benefits and ready to pay taxes will not come under GAAR, but those who do opt for dual taxation avoidance agreements will come under its purview.
The Union Government was forced to defer the rules until 1 April 2013, as foreign investors had expressed their reservation about the language used in the rules. Investors had maintained that the ambiguous language used in the draft of the GAAR could lead to the misuse of the rule.
What are Tax Havens?
Tax havens are countries which have low tax regimes which provide individuals and business opportunities of tax avoidance or tax evasion. There are roughly 45 tax havens in the world today. In Indian context, Mauritius is considered to be the most significant tax havens or tax evading route.
In more precise words the Mauritius route can be described as a channel used by individuals and Multi National Companies to evade paying taxes in India. The tax evasion in India through this route is estimated to be in tune with 55 billion dollar, mostly attributed to the loopholes in a bilateral agreement on double taxation.