SARS wins war on tax dodgers
09 September 2014
Posted by: Author: Babington Maravanyika
Author: Babington Maravanyika (Iol)
More than 260 cases of tax evasion were successfully prosecuted by the National Prosecuting Authority during the last financial year.
SARS spokeswoman Marika Muller said about 330 tax-related criminal cases were finalised during the 2013/14 financial year, of which 267 were successfully prosecuted.
Muller said to deter non-compliance, SARS staff conducted more than 1.8 million audits. SARS had surpassed its audit coverage target of 6 percent of the total number of registered Personal Income Tax, Corporate Income Tax, VAT/Excise and Pay As You Earn taxpayers. "Of these, nearly 20 000 were high-risk, complex and high-impact audit cases.”
In terms of personal income tax, in the 2013 Tax Season, 91.53 percent of all returns expected by SARS had been filed by the end of the filing season, she said. "This is an improvement of more than 5 percent on the 2012 filing season.” About 90 percent of all tax returns were now being filed electronically.
Muller said SARS continually conducts audited on high net worth individuals to tackle non-compliance.
During 2013/14 (up to third quarter), 68 audits were conducted , yielding R13 million. A total of 13 audits were conducted on trusts associated with such individuals, with a yield of R9.6m.
About R104.5m in debt was recovered from wealthy South Africans.
On-time filing compliance by the high net worth individuals has remained high at 82.20 percent in the third quarter of 2013/14 and on time payment for them stood at 67 percent over the same period.
Asked to name some prominent people found on the wrong side of the tax law, Muller said SARS could not comment publicly on individuals, businesses or trusts as "taxpayer confidentiality is an obligation imposed on SARS”.
Taxpayer confidentiality extends to all, whether a taxpayer is under investigation or not, she said.
"Taxpayer confidentiality ends only when a matter is formally brought before a court of law, other than a tax court. It then becomes a matter for public record,” she said.
SARS is conscious of prevailing global tax concerns, highlighted by a recent Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report. It said multinational corporations continue to exploit loopholes in tax codes, double taxation agreements and tax treaties to avoid or significantly minimise their tax obligations in countries where they operate and make profits. This is done through cross-border structures, intragroup transactions and hybrid mismatches.
SARS urges those with evidence to report such activities so the taxman (or any other law enforcement agency) so it could be established whether such allegations have merit and whether there is a legal basis to pursue criminal or civil remedies.
Muller warned taxpayers to guard against intermediaries claiming they can "fix” tax problems by bribing SARS officials. Dealing with such people would constitute attempted fraud and corruption.
Instances of non-compliance with tax laws can be anonymously reported at 0800 00 28 70.
This article first appeared on iol.co.za.