The State of Play of Tax Avoidance – The Decision in Alesco and the Commissioner’s Interpretation Statement

In March 2013, the New Zealand Court of Appeal delivered its unanimous decision in the appeal by Alesco New Zealand Ltd v. Commissioner of Inland Revenue (Alesco), finding that the arrangement was tax avoidance. On 13 June 2013, the Commissioner of Inland Revenue (Commissioner) issued an interpretation statement on the application of the New Zealand general anti-avoidance rule (GAAR). This document relies heavily on the much criticized Parliamentary contemplation test. This article reviews the key findings from the Alesco decision before critically examining the approach that the Commissioner intends to take with respect to invoking the GAAR as outlined in the interpretation statement.