Kelsen, the Principle of Exclusion of Contradictions, and General Anti-Avoidance Rules in Tax Law

28 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2015 Last revised: 18 Oct 2017

See all articles by John Prebble QC

John Prebble QC

Victoria University of Wellington - Faculty of Law; Institut für Österreichisches und Internationales Steuerrecht, Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien; University of Notre Dame Australia - School of Law

Date Written: August 16, 2015

Abstract

Kelsen’s huge opus contains little on taxation law. Nevertheless, several of his remarkable insights shed light on certain oddities of income tax law. General anti-avoidance rules, or “GAARs”, are an example.

GAARs are generally thought to be necessary; at least, many countries have enacted them in recent decades. But GAARs are subject to extensive criticism for vagueness. The reason is that GAARs override transactions that other parts of tax law permit, but it is difficult to determine which transactions GAARs apply to. Kelsen’s discussion of the logical Principle of Exclusion of Contradictions sheds light why this is so and on the fundamental nature of GAARs, which are an unusual form of law by any criterion.

Keywords: income tax, general anti-avoidance rule, Kelsen, principle of exclusion of contradictions, rule of law

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K34

Suggested Citation

Prebble QC, John, Kelsen, the Principle of Exclusion of Contradictions, and General Anti-Avoidance Rules in Tax Law (August 16, 2015). WU International Taxation Research Paper Series No. 2015-23; Victoria University of Wellington Legal Research Paper No. 141/2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2645423 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2645423

John Prebble QC (Contact Author)

Victoria University of Wellington - Faculty of Law ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.victoria.ac.nz/law/staff/prebble-scholarly.aspx

Institut für Österreichisches und Internationales Steuerrecht, Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien ( email )

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Vienna, Wien 1020
Austria

University of Notre Dame Australia - School of Law

Sydney Campus, New South Wales
Australia

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