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Tax Court Judgment Case No. IT 12524

11 April 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Herman van Dyk
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By SAIT Technical

The Tax Court delivered its judgment in Case No. IT 12524 on 20 November 2012.

This appeal relates to the tax affairs of Mr A ("appellant”) as well a trust which is affiliated to him.

The respondent is the Commissioner for SARS.

Background

Mr A is an instrument technician and was employed by a labour broker named D Entity in 1995. In terms of his agreement with D Entity, he provided services as an instrumental technician for certain divisions and subsidiaries of a client of D Entity in the mining industry. The appellant accordingly worked for certain divisions of a number of affiliated companies ("the companies”).

In 1997, the appellant established a trust with a view to continuing to provide his personal services as an instrument technician to The Companies. The appellant did not provide any services to The Companies on behalf of D Entity, with effect from the 1998 tax year.

The trust then received income from The Companies, and the appellant testified that he was advised that he could claim expenses against such income.

The agreements on record provided that the remuneration payable by The Companies to the trust was based upon the agreed hourly rate for the hours worked by the appellant. The appellant was obliged to keep accurate time sheets to record the number of hours and places worked, and the trust then issued monthly invoices to The Companies for the services rendered by the appellant in each particular month on the basis of the hours worked by the appellant.

The Companies were also obliged to reimburse the trust all travel and accommodation expenses incurred for the purposes of the appellant’s services to The Companies. Furthermore, the agreements on record provided that income tax at the prescribed rate would be deducted from fees owing by The Companies from time to time, unless a tax exemption certificate was issued.

The appellant did not receive a salary in respect of his services to The Companies. However, he admitted in cross-examination in this respect that after 1997, the trust effectively received similar income from The Companies to that previously received by him from D Entity for his services at The Companies. He also testified that he was advised at the time that he could transfer income from the bank account of the trust to his own bank account, from time to time. As a matter of practice, he transferred virtually all income received by the trust from The Companies to his own bank account.

During the tax years from 1998 to 2001, the trust claimed expenses on its income tax returns as well as refunds of the employees’ tax deducted by The Companies.

The trust claimed as deductible expenses including rental for the appellant’s house, medical expenses, school fees, and expenses for groceries, gardening services and motor vehicle hire. As a result of these and other expenses claimed by the trust, the trust did not show a profit in respect of any of the years of assessment subject to this appeal.

During cross-examination the appellant could not explain and/or justify a number of expenses claimed by the trust and he appeared to concede in cross-examination that the expenses claimed by the trust could not be substantiated as expenses in the production of income of the trust.

In the appellant’s personal income tax returns between 1998 and 2001, he declared either no income or minimal income.

SARS (the respondent) directed a request for factual information and documentary proof to the appellant in February 2002. SARS initiated an audit after the trust had claimed a refund in respect of the 2001, year of assessment. The said audit revealed inter alia that the trust had claimed exorbitant expenses in relation to income resulting in a declared loss in 2001. This loss was compounded by the declared losses from previous years, which were carried forward to 2001.

A further audit was initiated by the respondent in relation to the 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 tax years.

The audit revealed that the trust had claimed a refund for employees’ tax deducted by The Companies and that the appellant had declared no or minimal income for the tax period between 1998 and 2001. SARS assessed the appellant’s gross income as follows:

1998: R129 614-00

1999: R191 168-75

2000: R206 766-00

2001: R 82 835-00

The appellant objected to these assessments which the respondent disallowed.

Issues to decide

1. Whether the creation of the trust and the conclusion of the service agreements between the trust and The Companies can be regarded as a scheme to avoid income tax by the appellant as contemplated in section 103(1) of the Income Tax Act.

2. Whether the remuneration paid to the trust constitutes taxable income in the hands of the appellant on the basis of the relevant provisions of the Act relating to gross income.

3. Whether the deductions claimed by the appellant are allowable in terms of section 11(a) of the Act read with section 23 of the Act.

Judgment

It was held that all four elements of section 103 (1) of the Act are present in relation to the series of transactions executed by the appellant and that he failed to discharge the onus on him of establishing that one or more of the said elements were not present. SARS was held to be entitled to invoke the provisions of the section and therefore justifiably disallowed the appellant’s objection.

It was held that taking substance over form, the true nature and substance of the income received from The Companies was that such income was effectively the income of the appellant. There was no evidence to suggest any genuine resolve on the part of the trust to exist as a commercial entity and/or business, autonomously of the appellant.

Both the appellant and respondent conceded that all the stated expenditure were not incurred in the production of income. The respondent therefore justifiably disallowed the expenses claimed.

The appeal was dismissed with costs.

Please click here for the full judgment.



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