In the realm of taxation, compliance with Anti-Avoidance Rules stands as a safeguard against aggressive tax planning strategies. These legal provisions, which Cyprus has implemented are in alignment with international standards and EU directives. Cyprus enforces a range of Anti-Avoidance Rules to maintain tax fairness.

In general, compliance with Anti-Avoidance Rules

Anti-avoidance rules, also known as anti-avoidance provisions or anti-avoidance measures, are legal provisions or regulations implemented by tax authorities or governments to prevent individuals and businesses from using aggressive tax planning strategies to reduce their tax liabilities. These rules are designed to ensure that taxpayers pay their fair share of taxes and to combat tax avoidance, which is the practice of legally minimising taxes through methods that go against the intended spirit of tax laws. Anti-avoidance rules may take various forms and can include:

General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR)

These are broad and comprehensive provisions that grant tax authorities the power to disregard transactions or arrangements that are primarily entered into for tax avoidance purposes. GAAR provisions often require tax authorities to consider the substance of transactions over their legal form.

Specific Anti-Avoidance Rules (SAAR)

SAARs target specific tax planning strategies or transactions that are commonly used for tax avoidance. They provide detailed guidance on the treatment of such transactions and may override other provisions of tax law.

Transfer Pricing Rules

These rules require multinational enterprises to price their intercompany transactions (e.g., the sale of goods, services, or intellectual property) at arm’s length, ensuring that profits are allocated fairly among different jurisdictions.

Thin Capitalization Rules

Thin capitalization rules limit the amount of debt that a company can use to finance its operations in relation to its equity. These rules prevent companies from artificially shifting profits to jurisdictions with lower tax rates by overleveraging their operations.

CFC (Controlled Foreign Corporation) Rules

CFC rules are designed to prevent taxpayers from shifting income to low-tax or tax haven jurisdictions by controlling foreign subsidiaries. These rules may attribute the income of foreign subsidiaries to the parent company for tax purposes.

Limitations on Interest Deductions

Some jurisdictions impose restrictions on the deductibility of interest expenses, particularly when the interest is paid to related parties or more than a certain threshold.

Hybrid Mismatch Rules

These rules address situations where discrepancies in the tax treatment of financial instruments or entities between countries lead to double non-taxation or unintended tax benefits. They seek to align the tax treatment of such instruments or entities.

Exit Taxation Rules

Exit taxation rules apply when a taxpayer relocates or transfers assets or activities to another jurisdiction. These rules ensure that any accrued but unrealized gains on assets are subject to taxation before the exit.

Anti-Treaty Shopping Rules

These rules aim to prevent taxpayers from inappropriately benefiting from tax treaties by routing transactions through a third country to exploit favourable treaty provisions.

General Reporting and Disclosure Requirements

Tax authorities may require taxpayers to disclose certain transactions or structures that have the potential for aggressive tax planning. Failure to report such transactions can result in penalties.

In Cyprus, compliance with Anti-Avoidance Rules

Cyprus, like many countries, has implemented various anti-avoidance rules in the field of taxation.

Below are some key anti-avoidance rules in Cyprus:

General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR)

Likewise, with the rest of the EU countries, Cyprus has General Anti-Avoidance Rules – GAAR provisions that empower the tax authorities to disregard transactions or arrangements that are primarily designed for the avoidance of tax. The General Anti-Avoidance Rules – GAAR allows tax authorities to look beyond the legal form of transactions and consider their substance. These rules align with the European Union’s Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive (ATAD) 

Thin Capitalization Rules

Cyprus has thin capitalization rules that restrict the deductibility of interest expenses on loans from related parties if the debt-to-equity ratio exceeds a specified threshold. This rule prevents companies from excessively leveraging their operations to reduce taxable profits. Exceeding borrowing costs shall be deductible in the tax period in which they are incurred only up to 30% of the taxpayer’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA). Exceeding borrowing costs means the amount by which the deductible borrowing costs of a taxpayer exceed the taxable interest and related revenues that the taxpayer receives according to national law. In cases where the companies are part of the same group, exceeding borrowing costs and the EBITDA are calculated at the level of the group and comprise the results of all its members. 

The above provisions do not apply in the following circumstances:

  1. When exceeding borrowing costs are up to EUR 3 million;
  2. When the taxpayer is a standalone entity. 

Excess borrowing costs which cannot be set off against the taxable income in the current tax period can be carried forward to be set off against the income of the taxpayer for the next five subsequent years. These rules align with the European Union’s

Transfer Pricing Rules

Cyprus has transfer pricing rules that require multinational enterprises to price their intercompany transactions (e.g., goods, services, intellectual property) at arm’s length. These rules aim to ensure that profits are allocated fairly between related entities. Transfer pricing is analysed in a separate section of the information report. The rules align with the European Union’s.

CFC (Controlled Foreign Corporation) Rules

Cyprus has CFC (Controlled Foreign Corporation) rules that attribute the income of certain foreign subsidiaries or entities to Cypriot residents for tax purposes. These rules are designed to prevent the shifting of income to low-tax jurisdictions through controlled foreign entities. CFC (Controlled Foreign Corporation) Rules are analysed in a separate section of the information report. The rules align with the European Union’s

Interest Deduction Limitation Rules

Cyprus introduced rules to limit the deductibility of net interest expenses. These rules align with the European Union’s Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive (ATAD) and implement interest deduction limitations as required by EU directives.

General Reporting and Disclosure Requirements

Cyprus has implemented various reporting and disclosure requirements, including the submission of transfer pricing documentation and country-by-country reporting for multinational enterprises. The rules align with the European Union’s

Tax Treaties and Anti-Abuse Provisions

Cyprus’s tax treaties often include anti-abuse provisions aimed at preventing treaty abuse, such as treaty shopping. Income recipients are not considered to be the beneficial owners in a transaction if they do not have the legal right to use and enjoy the income or assets. The concept of “beneficial owner” is particularly important in the context of withholding taxes, which are taxes deducted at the source of payment. Many double tax treaties include provisions that reduce or eliminate withholding taxes on certain types of income, such as dividends, interest, royalties, and capital gains, provided that the recipient qualifies as the beneficial owner of that income. These provisions may deny treaty benefits to certain structures that are deemed to be abusive. These rules align with the European Union’s


Cyprus has implemented robust Anti-Avoidance Rules aimed at preventing tax avoidance practices and safeguarding tax integrity, in alignment with international standards and EU directives. Ensuring strict adherence to these regulations is essential for maintaining compliance and avoiding potential penalties, underscoring the nation’s dedication to equitable and sustainable tax principles.

Stay Informed, Stay Compliant

Take proactive steps to understand and adhere to Cyprus’ Anti-Avoidance Rules for responsible and sustainable tax practices. Reach out to our experts for guidance today.

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