The EU Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive: A UK Perspective


The EU Directive laying down rules against tax avoidance practices that directly affect the functioning of the Internal Market—the so-called Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive (ATAD)—was adopted on 12 July 2016. It has become one of the core vehicles for implementing the output of the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) initiative, a process led by the G20 and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), at the EU level. The ATAD has imposed a legally binding obligation upon EU Member States to incorporate the conclusions of Action 2 (hybrid mismatch arrangements), Action 3 (controlled foreign company (CFC)rules) and Action 4 (interest deductions) of the BEPS in their domestic laws and regulations, and it has secured a certain uniformity of national implementing measures across the EU by imposing a common minimum level of protection. In addition, the ATAD has also set out a general anti-abuse rule (GAAR) and exit tax provisions, which further strengthen the EU’s baseline protection of tax revenues. The potential impact of this milestone Directive on the Internal Market and the tax systems of Member States in a short- to long-term period is still to be evaluated. This article offers preliminary thoughts, focusing primarily on the UK’s perspective. The author first briefly addresses possible consequences for the EU as a whole, and then analyses the ATAD from the UK’s point of view, showing how the adoption of this Directive fits into a broader UK tax policy and law both prior to and following the Brexit vote.