SARS makes disclosure programme permanent
26 September 2012
Posted by: SAIT Technical
By Evan Pickworth (Business Day)
A PERMANENT voluntary disclosure programme will be introduced from next month after a highly successful temporary disclosure programme that closed out last year had netted R2.7bn so far, senior South African Revenue Service (Sars) officials said yesterday.
The previous programme ran from November 2010 to October last year and attracted 18,000 applicants. It was "more of a success than expected”, Vlok Symington, a SARS executive involved with the programme, told an Ernst & Young Africa tax conference in Hermanus.
He said many applications still had to be processed — only 36% had been so far, with 34% of those producing bankable money for Sars.
Mr Symington confirmed that while not all aspects of the Tax Administration Bill would be operational from October 1, the new permanent voluntary disclosure regime would be in force, although it would be more limited in terms of relief.
According to the bill, if the voluntary disclosure of any nonpayment of tax comes after notice of an audit, the penalty is 75% of the money owed instead of 200% — in cases of intentional evasion — but 10% if it were to be disclosed before notice of an audit.
Mark Kingon, a Sars executive who is involved with higher level tax conflicts, said the programme aimed to reduce uncertainty and improve services and enforcement.
Mr Symington said the plan was to increase resources and fine-tune the system as he expected the programme to remain popular, being the most developed in Africa.
Mr Kingon said "extensive abuse” by "supposed” tax practitioners had occurred in the past few months and the aim was to weed them out.
The bill includes new provisions relating to the registration of, and complaints against, people giving advice or completing documents on tax for remuneration.
Delegates to the conference, which had representatives from more than 30 countries, noted a 75% increase in aggressive tax audits in the past two years.
Chris Sanger, a former adviser to former UK prime minister Gordon Brown on tax and Ernst & Young's global leader on tax policy, said there had been "rapid growth” in anti-abuse measures worldwide.