A Giant Leap for Fairer Tax or Blind Compromise with Public Opinion? : A Review on the New Case Law on Substance-over-Form by the Supreme Court of Korea

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Yoon, Ji-Hyun
Issue Date
BK 21 law
Journal of Korean Law, Vol.13 No.1, pp. 139-174
Substance-over-formLegality principleGeneral anti-avoidance rule (GAAR)Tax avoidance
This Article discusses recent developments pertaining to the substance-over-form principle in Korean tax law, which is sometimes regarded as a general anti-avoidance doctrine. In particular, this Article focuses on a recent judgment by the Supreme Court of Korea (the SC).

After reviewing the relevant facts, the SCs holding, and its dissenting and supplementing opinions, this Article points out that this new case law is clearly a departure from the SCs old case law. This Article attempts to identify those theoretical factors and social incidents that influenced this radical change of direction. It is argued that this change in case law has to do with some real cases where sophisticated tax avoidance schemes were involved, but the tax authorities had difficulty in striking them down. Hostile public sentiment against these taxpayers led the legislature to enact statutory anti-avoidance rules of a general nature, and the administration to challenge the avoidance schemes employed by the taxpayers.

In brief, it is argued that the new case law should be understood in conjunction with all those social incidents and their aftermath. However, whether this change can also be supported from legal perspectives is yet a difficult question to answer, and should be subject to further discussions.
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College of Law/Law School (법과대학/대학원)The Law Research Institute (법학연구소) Journal of Korean Law (JKL)Journal of Korean Law Volume 13 Number 1/2 (2013/2014)
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