In a November 29, 2016 Technical Interpretation (2016-0672091C6, Panourgias, Marina), CRA provided details of the process for proposing an assessment relying on GAAR. Advice on any GAAR assessment is generally obtained from the Abusive Tax Avoidance and Technical Support Division in Headquarters (HQ). HQ relies heavily on the views of the GAAR Committee (GC).
CRA indicated that the process for a GAAR assessment can vary. The audit division at the Tax Services Office (TSO) first reviews the facts to determine whether avoidance transactions have been undertaken.
Where the transactions are similar to situations previously considered by the GC, and application of GAAR was recommended, a proposal letter would generally be issued, and the taxpayer’s representations requested. The matter, including any taxpayer representations, would then be referred to HQ for its recommendation.
Where the matter has not previously been considered by the GC, and GAAR is likely to be the primary assessing position, the matter is referred to HQ prior to issuing a proposal letter. HQ generally refers the matter to the GC, but sometimes concludes GAAR is not applicable without consulting the GC.
CRA finally noted that any submission received from the taxpayer or their representatives are forwarded, in their entirety, to HQ.
For further information see Video Tax News Monthly Tax Update Newsletter, Issue No. 427